BFFs back for more

Like Frog & Toad, Elephant & Piggie, and Ling & Ting, best friendship stories & easy readers are a perfect pair. These latest entries in noteworthy easy-reader series offer readers a chance to visit with some beloved sets of besties. For more recommended easy readers and articles about the format, click on the tag easy readers.

Sergio Ruzzier's The Quiet Boat Ride and Other Stories presents three more brief comics-format adventures about odd-couple friends Fox and Chick (from The Party and Other Stories). Pastel-hued pen, ink, and watercolor illustrations are easy to follow from panel to panel and spread to spread, with tantalizingly off-kilter details (why does Chick's house lean so precipitously? and is that an outhouse beside it?) and fanciful supporting characters. The protagonists seem to have mellowed somewhat from the previous book, with fewer examples of sniping and more of sharing. (Chronicle, 4–7 years)


In Duck & Goose: A Gift for Goose, the latest entry in Tad Hills's series about the feathered friends, Duck presents a package to Goose. When Goose thinks the box is the present, Duck tries to correct the mistake: "This box is not your gift." "It is not mine?" A page-turn brings resolution: it is your box, Goose, but look what's inside. Age-appropriate foreshadowing, vocabulary repetition, visual jokes and recognizable emotions in unfussy illustrations, and a good payoff make for an entertaining early reader. (Random/Schwartz & Wade, 5–8 years)

Charlie & Mouse Even Better, Laurel Snyder's third Charlie & Mouse picture book/easy reader hybrid, shines the spotlight on Mom's approaching birthday. The first chapter sets the scene, with the siblings "helping" her make pancakes. In chapter two, Dad and the kids go shopping for the perfect present ("Does Mom like tape?" "Everyone likes tape"). Emily Hughes's graphite and Photoshop illustrations convey lots of affection for this relatable family, including its everyday harried moments. (Chronicle, 5–8 years)

Juana Medina's Bogotá-dwelling protagonist Juana and her beloved dog Lucas return in Juana & Lucas: Big Problemas. Juana is growing up, and while some things remain constant (her ever-faithful pet; her abuela, abuelo, and mischievous cousins), a big change is looming: Mami is starting to spend more time with a new "friend," Luis. Accessible chapters with plenty of white space and interspersed art guide readers through Juana's experiences and emotions. Through it all, Juana can always count on her family's steady love to help solve even the biggest problemas. (Candlewick, 7–9 years)

From the June 2019 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

Katie Bircher
Katie Bircher, associate editor at The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MA in children's literature from Simmons College. She served as chair of the 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committee. Follow Katie on Twitter @lyraelle.

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