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Thursday, August 30, 2018

Yak and Dove, words by Kyo Maclear and pictures by Esme Shapiro. Tundra, Penguin Random House. 2017. $21.99 ages 4 and up

"But, Yak, we are not alike.

That's true, Dove. 
We have never been the 
Not once. 

You are large and I am

As school begins again, there will be much discussion in classrooms regarding friendship and work being done to create caring communities. Children in school classrooms are diverse in character, culture and family. There is no telling how the new or renewed friendships will grow and develop as the new year begins and progresses. It is an ever-changing tableau, inspiring careful consideration and often, wonder.

Yak and Dove are, without a doubt, an unusual pair. They are as different as day and night. In the first of three stories about the two, Dove ponders: If We Were Twins. They would like the same things, live in the same house, and even share the same thoughts. Dove admits they are not alike and remarks on it, which leads to some pretty astute observations.

"You have feathers 
and I have fur. 

You can be a little too quiet.

You can be a little too loud. 

And you are smelly, Yak.

And you are ill-mannered, Dove. 

You never share your chocolate!

You make fun of my feet!"

The argument results in a parting of the ways, and a new story: The Audition. This time Yak is having a heart-to-heart discussion with Marmot about losing a best friend, the sadness felt, and the requirements needing to be met in a new best friend. An audition is held; the result is a happy surprise. In the final chapter, Yak and Quiet, the two come to an understanding about what each brings to the relationship and how those differences can make for something very special.

A caring friendship takes work. Kyo Maclear knows that, and shows her readers that the hard work is worth it, despite some ups and downs. The emotion and humor of the text is matched perfectly with Esme Shapiro's watercolor, gouache and colored pencil artwork. The world she creates is filled with lovely, emotional details and an awareness for the region where one might find yaks. Friendship comes in all sizes, shapes, colors; it is in our similarities and differences that it becomes meaningful.

Inventive, lovely and fresh; it will be an admirable addition to personal, classroom and school libraries. Don't miss it!

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