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Friday, August 26, 2016

Louise and Andie: The Art of Friendship. Written and illustrated by Kelly Light. Balzer & Bray, Harper. 2016. $21.99 ages 5 and up

"Hi, I'm Louise.
This is Art ...
and our cat.

I'm Andie.
This is Bacon.
Come in.

Andie! Do you
like art? We made
you lots of drawings."

I find myself gravitating toward familiar characters, as I know so many young children do. There is comfort in knowing something about them. If they are as wholesome and charming as Louise and Art are, you cannot help but feel a kinship toward them. Their keen interest in their surroundings is evident from our first meeting.

I hope you met them in Kelly Light's first book about this brother and sister pair - Louise Loves Art (Harper, 2014). If so, you will know Louise to be creative, thoughtful and imaginative. Art is eager to be with his big sister, and shares her enthusiasm for life. So, you will not be surprised that they are eager to say hello to a new girl in the neighborhood. They watch excitedly as the moving van pulls up and begins the unloading process. They don't even wait for the boxes to be taken in and unpacked. They hurriedly make their way over to introduce themselves, with high hopes that she is a kindred spirit.

Andie is also an enthusiastic artist - her room is awash with portraits of her slightly goofy-looking dog, Bacon. Drawing together seems an appropriate next step! The day is perfect, until Andie wants to make some perceived changes to Louise's work. Louise is reticent to change what she has drawn, and does not agree.

"I think we have artistic differences."

Could it be the end to this budding relationship? The two could not be more different. Kelly Light shows those differences in carefully created cartoon images. The pets, the glasses, the clothing worn all speak to the issue they must confront, as they explore finding a common ground. Andie proves her mettle when she offers a shared piece of art and offers the hand of friendship once again. Although young readers may not understand the reference, the final scene is sure to delight the adults who share this charming story.

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