Friday, November 22, 2013

Book Review: Friends by Eric Carle

Like a Jane Austen novel, Eric Carle ends his latest picture book with marriage.  Friends not only ends with a wedding, it also has action, adventure, mystery and the numbers 1 through 10.

The scene opens with a sweet depiction of two friends who play, run, dance and share secrets with each other.  Sadly, fate intervenes and one of the friends is moved far away. The little boy who is left behind is lonely and so he resolves to find his missing friend, but first he counts to ten.

Judging by the pages that follow, the little boy shows great foresight in his decision to take a moment and compose himself before setting off.  He must swim a river, sleep under the stars, climb a mountain, cross a meadow, endure rain, and traverse a deep dark forest before he finally finds his friend.  The illustrations are beautiful examples of Carle's painted tissue paper collages.

The marriage is charmingly depicted with both children in over-sized wedding attire.  The little girl holds a bouquet of flowers that the little boy picked on his travels, and a dog serves as maid of honor.          

The book's mystery doesn't actually appear until the very last page.  Carle has given us a photo taken of him hugging a little girl when they were both three years old back in 1932.  USA Today published an article in which Eric Carle says that he hopes to be able to find his own lost childhood friend through his picture book Friends.  

Eric Carle's books often tend to inspire related art projects, and Friends seems likely to encourage that tradition.  Maybe it could also lead to some interesting conversations with your child.  It can be traumatic for a child to lose contact with friends when somebody moves.  What ideas do they have for keeping in touch?  No idea is too outlandish; after all, Eric Carle wrote a book to try to find his friend!

You'll find this Eric Carle book and more at your library -- stop in and check out a book!

Miss Robin        

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