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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My Friend Henry, written and illustrated by Philippe Beha. Scholastic Canada, 2012. $16.99 ages 3 and up

"Hello, squirrel. Have you
seen my friend Henry?
He's small, with curly hair."
"Yes!" says the squirrel.
"I saw him at the grocery store
with a friend this morning."

With a friend?
But, I'm his friend!"

I also like the uncertain tone of this story about two friends and a surprise. Our narrator and Henry have always been friends, right from the time they were toddlers together. As the book opens, our narrator is concerned that his friend is late for a play date at the park. As time presses on, his worry deepens. He begins to ask if others have seen Henry.

As he asks he describes Henry to help with identifying him. Each animal answers his question about Henry with a resounding response that they have seen him, and he is always with friends. Now, our young man has another more pressing worry. Might Henry want other friends? Would he rather be with them?

When the pigeon's response includes 'surrounded by many friends', gloom makes its way into the boy's heart. Imagine his surprise when he sees what Henry has been planning!

"There's my friend Henry,
small, with curly hair, big dark eyes,
freckles on his nose and a  huge smile!
And there are all my
other friends too!"

Philippe Beha has a long history in the book industry. He outlines his illustrations using black and creates a story in pictures with variety in facial expression, lined movement, a familiar setting and bold color. Children will enjoy this story of friendship and surprise.

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