Review of My Best Friend

My Best Friend
by Julie Fogliano; illus. by Jillian Tamaki
Preschool    Atheneum    32 pp.
3/20    978-1-5344-2722-8    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-5344-2723-5    $10.99

What begins on the title spread as a small redheaded girl hesitantly approaching another girl on a tire swing becomes an ode to making friends. Our narrator gleefully shares this discovered joy: “i have a new friend / and her hair is black / and it shines / and it shines / and she always laughs at everything.” In digital illustrations rendered entirely in complementary shades of blush and green, the two preschoolers romp between leafy trees and rows of flowers at a park. The earnest, unrestrained text plays alongside the pair, each stanza following the girls’ movement as they twirl in loops or draw with chalk or quack like ducks. By the time the two part ways, the narrator already has plans in mind for the next time they’re together: “i’m not sure about her name / but i will ask her tomorrow / and she will tell me then / because we are best friends.” The two-toned palette and mostly white backdrop create the impression that the girls, if only for a brief time, exist in a world all their own, while the energetic, curved lines of the illustrations mirror the constant motion of young children’s play. The book honors the details of such simple and unaffected love, capturing intimately shared laughter and, during a pause in the action at its center, a tight hug around the neck. With text, color, and line cooperating seamlessly, Fogliano and Tamaki forge a friendship that rings true.

From the March/April 2020 Horn Book Magazine.

Grace McKinney
Grace McKinney

Grace McKinney holds an MA in Children's Literature from Simmons University and reviews for the Horn Book Magazine. She works at a Montessori school in St. Louis, Missouri, and writes about children's books and Montessori on the blog Cosmic Bookshelf.

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