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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

YOU WILL BE MY FRIEND! Written and illustrated by Peter Brown. Little Brown, Hachette. 2011. $18.50 ages 3 and up

"Come back here and have fun
with me!
That's when things got ugly.
"You won't get any snacks
unless you start liking me
You WILL be my friend!"

If you've been holding your breath waiting for Lucy's return, you are sure to be pleased with her new adventure. You will remember that she adopted a boy in Children Make Terrible Pets, only to discover that her mother was right. It was not an easy relationship.

The minute her toes touch the floor one morning, she is bent on finding a friend among all the 'fun creatures' that share her habitat. There are lots of them, to be sure! Full of optimism, she bids her mother farewell and is off to put her plan in action. You can tell from her eager demeanor that things are not likely to go quite as planned.

She is nothing, if not enthusiastic, and she runs about the forest floor full of anticipation for the life she and her 'new' friend will share:

"I CANNOT WAIT to make a new friend!
We're going to do cartwheels!
And climb trees!
And have picnics!
And go swimming!
And have a dance party!"

Do you know anyone among the forest's creature who will fit that bill? Lucy is zealous in her search, scaring frogs from their pond, annoying a giraffe's midday snack, trying to de-scent a know where I'm going with this. Time after time she tries...each attempt is met with failure, and even humiliation.  She roars, she threatens...nothing works. With a final "DOESN'T ANYBODY WANT TO BE MY FRIEND?!", she collapses near a lonely tree stump convinced it's a hopeless hunt.

Astute observers will have noticed the lone, and apparently 'different' flamingo from the previous scene and will not be too surprised when Lucy finds just exactly the friend she has been looking for all day. It's obvious that they both might be marching to their own drummers. Ah, bliss!

Young readers will recognize Peter Brown's earthy palette from Lucy's first story. Once again, he uses voice bubbles, expressive characters and a funny premise for his tale of friendship and longing. It is clear to young readers that you are better being yourself than trying to be someone else, you have to be a friend to make a friend and no matter what you do, you cannot force friendship on someone who is disinclined to want to spend time with you. Important lessons for all, right??? Friendship takes time, patience, and it is so worth every minute spent. Bravo, Lucy!

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