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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Best Friend Trouble, written by Frances Itani and illustrated by Genevieve Despres. Orca Book Publishers, 2014. $19.95 ages 5 and up

"Hanna dug into the box and chose two sets of finger cymbals. She slipped her fingers through the elastic loops on the back of the cymbals. She clanged the cymbals together until they rang out loudly. Music made her feel even better. She decided to look for her mom. Her mom was working in the study."

Friends make the world go round, don't they? I cannot imagine where I would be without them. There are, however, those times when friendships falter. Hopefully, that happens more when we are still young and eager to find solutions to the problems faced, or later when we can't remember what caused the difficulty in the first place. (Wait, will my failing memory affect my friendships?)

Lizzy and Hanna love being together; they each also like being best at whatever they do. An 'I told you so' attitude from Lizzy is the final straw for Hanna. Off she stomps! Looking for sympathy, she follows the sounds coming from the basement. There, her brother is hard at work building a birdhouse. He thinks he has the perfect solution to her 'best friend trouble'. A hammer and some nails might do the trick.

It helps...a little. Off she goes to see if her father might listen:

"She sighed a long, drawn-out sigh that stretched as long as the note her dad played on his clarinet. The music stopped."

Her father offers a solution, before she heads off to see her mom. She, too, gives advice for making
Hanna forget her troubles. Even her hamster Octavia listens to her complaints. Will there be a solution for the two? How will they work it out? How does Lizzy feel about their friendship?

Kids will relate to all the feelings so ably described by Frances Itani in her first picture book in many years. Problems arise all the time when dealing with friends. How we deal with those difficulties help us understand the importance of friends and of compromise.

The pencil and watercolor illustrations are perfectly paired with Ms. Itani's appealing text. The choice of warm colors establishes mood and enhances the telling. Lively and satisfying, this book is sure to find a lot of fans and will be most useful in opening further conversation with little ones. 

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