Friday, October 14, 2016
Best Frints in the Whole Universe, by Antoinette Portis. Roaring Brook Press, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2016.$19.50 ages 4 and up
This is a book you are going to have to practise reading before you read it aloud to a group. It's amazing how unfamiliar words can really tie you up when wanting to share a story.
The two frints are just fine, until one bites the other's tail off! Their language sounds a little like any toddler just learning to speak. Some words are clear, others distorted by the mix of sounds they are just learning.
Now, to their story. Here's the opening line:
"Yelfred and Omek have been best frints
since they were little blobbies."
Put that on your list of worthy first lines!
You would do well to read the front and back endpapers before embarking on this Boborpian adventure. They give you a heads-up for understanding the language created to pen this most enjoyable tale of friendship and the bumps encountered along the way. You are definitely in for a romp when you decide to share it with young listeners. It won't take them long to realize that the author is having some fun with readers. Luckily, none of this nonsense happens on Earth. Or, does it?
On Boborp, frints use 'teef' and not words. That tail will regenerate but not before there is a breach in the way the two feel about each other. As happens on every planet, it is short-lived and soon the two friends are happy to be together once again. Remember Emily Jenkins' lovely Tiger and Badger, Sophie and Steven in Sophie's Squash Go To School, or Gertie and Mary Sue in Gertie's Leap to Greatness? Toddlers are especially quick to forgive and forget - that is exactly what Yelfred and Omek do.
You will love their games, the humor and the speed with which the story moves along, and the invitation to have young readers make up some words of their own. What fun! The illustrations are bright and inviting, and offer an alternate universe that children will find intriguing and imaginative. They also help with understanding the action and the ups and downs of 'frintship'.
You might even decide to add Boborpian to the list of languages you speak!