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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

What James Said, written by Liz Rosenberg and illustrated by Matt Myers. A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2015. $19.50 ages 3 and up

"James and I used to
be friends, but not
I am ignoring him.
"What's wrong," he
asked this morning.
I didn't sit next to him
on the bus like I always
I had to sit between two
fifth graders."

If you know the game Telephone and have played it, you will know that message can become quite skewed as it passes from one person to the next. If you and one of your friends had a falling out  at one time or another, you will know that friendship can be tenuous at times. If someone once told you a story about that friend saying something about you, you will know that it hurts.  That is the premise for this awesome book.

Our young narrator begins by telling us that she never wants to talk to James again. After revealing the chain of events that led to her discovering what James said about her, she is furious. She is not perfect, despite his saying that she thinks she is!

"I do not think I am perfect.
I have big feet and freckles.
My hair is plain brown.
I am not the best speller
or the best at math."

What was he thinking? Doesn't matter, she has decided to ignore him. Poor James has no idea what has happened, and she won't explain. And, she won't be wearing the matching jacket that they usually wear either! James does everything he can to cheer her up. NOTHING helps.

It isn't until they go to the gym to see the results of their art show that any misunderstanding is cleared up. Bravo, James!

Matt Myers beautifully interprets this thoughtfully told story about friendship and trust. His watercolor images fully focus on the girl and her feelings about every single thing that happens. The paint splotches that cover her artistic interpretation of her best friend on the title page make her feelings very obvious for the audience. An abundance of white space keeps our attention clearly on the emotions felt throughout.  Stick figures created with thick outlines and no color for the minor characters ensure that we see the two friends throughout the telling. Inspired!

You won't ever be sorry to have this book in your collection.

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