‘If speaking is silver, then listening is gold.’ Turkish proverb
Over the years the theme of friendship has been explored and celebrated in thousands of children’s book. The ups and downs of this special bond have been written about and beautifully illustrated in an extensive range of impressive books. When we think of friendship, we often think of everything from the dizzy highs of making friends to forming unlikely friendships, cementing sibling friendships to losing friends. But most importantly, we recall the wonderful feeling of connection that comes with deep friendship: fun, warmth, reassurance and support.
Many classic children’s stories feature animated animals and caring characters, like Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad, A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh and Piglet, E.B. White’s Wilbur and Charlotte or Kenneth Graham’s Ratty and Mole. But it’s the combination of captivating writing and mesmerising pictures that captures the joy of that magnificent bond. Stories can offer a safe place to explore many feelings and discuss new situations. Words and pictures can emphasis the simple steps to making friends. They can outline that smiling, listening, showing interest and kindness are all essential qualities to forming lasting friendships.
Small readers, still a little unsteady on their feet, will relate to Fiona Robertson charming tale Swapsies, highlighting the appeal and lure of other toddler’s toys and the complexity of sharing. Master storyteller Rob Biddulph has created another heart-warming gem with Dinosaur Juniors. Sophy Henn’s wonderful Almost Anything is one to be read again and again.or age four plus, Thinker: My Puppy Poet and Me is an ideal read, especially before starting BIG school. The Same Inside is a collection of poems about empathy and friendship. This gentle anthology outlines a myriad of emotions.
For age six up, fans of Julian Gough and Jim Field’s ‘Rabbit & Bear’ series will laugh heartily at the latest hilarious tale The Pest in The Nest. Their unlikely friendship intensifies as the pair search for peace and quiet. Kate DiCamillo’s ‘Binky & Golly’ series feature another dynamic duo which will win young hearts. Fans of quirky capers will love Fennymore and the Brumella by Kirsten Reinhardt, with marvellous illustrations by David Roberts. Join Fennymore as he sets off on an adventure with his new friend Fizzy in a quest to locate his parents.
For readers aged eight plus, Alison Healy’s and Fintan Taite’s How Billy Brown Saved the Queen is a terrific tale of friendship. The Bubble Street Gang is back investigating more crimes in Making Millions by Erika McGann and Vince Reid. Join Cass and her best friends, Lex and Nicholas, to solve another mystery. Champion of friendship novels, Judi Curtin’s Stand by Me is the latest featuring best friends Beth and Molly. Join the pair as they travel to 1960 to mend a broken friendship.
As we know, often the most rewarding friendships can be with animals, sometimes our pets, in particular, dogs, cats and horses. Older readers will be hooked by Keepsake. Award-winning author Paula Leyden’s exceptional tale focuses on relationships, friendship, family and different connections, including Ella’s strong attachment to a horse called Storm.
And last, but not least, Raymie Nightingale is a remarkable read – perfect for long summer days, and one to share with a friend!
Dinosaur Juniors: Happy Hatchday by Rob Biddulph
Harpercollins Children’s Books
This new picture book by award-winning author-illustrator Rob Biddulph is a cracking caper. It’s happy hatch day and nine speckled eggs are about to hatch. Greg, short for Gregosaurus, hatches later than the others and feels left out, only to discover that they’ve hatched a plan to include him in their gang. A charming tale of friendship with a perfect combination of eye-catching illustrations and simple rhyming text which will appeal to young readers.
Almost Anything By Sophy Henn
Puffin 2018 (Pbk)
Almost Everything is another winning picturebook from Sophy Henn, creator of lovable characters Pom Pom, Edie and Bear. This enchanting story is an empowering tale of finding strength in your abilities through friendship and self-belief. When Bear gives George a ‘magic hat’ he finds the courage and ability to do all the things his friends can: fly a kite, rollerskate, cycle, dance … almost anything! It takes a while, but soon George learns that the magic comes from within. A book to be cherished and a message that will resonate with every reader.
Thinker: My Puppy Poet and Me by Eloise Greenfield, Illustrated by Eshan Abdollahi
Tiny Owl 2018
This beautifully illustrated picturebook traces a family’s joy at welcoming a new member into their family. As well as celebrating friendship and family, it also highlights the magic of composing poetry and putting everything in verse. Thinker, a curious tri-colour puppy with a love for nature, longs to join Jace in school. When Pet Day comes around, he can hardly contain his excitement. Puppy love with a splash of poetry and a dash of magic!
How Billy Brown Saved the Queen by Alison Healy, Illustrated by Fintan Taite
Little Island Books 2018
Little Island Books are clearly on a role after winning three CBI Book of the Year Awards this year! With an eye for entertaining stories, it is no surprise that they have published yet another captivating caper. Fintan Taite’s impressive and delightfully detailed illustrations are peppered throughout, lifting the pages with even more light-hearted humour. Alison Healy’s How Billy Brown Saved the Queen is an hilarious adventure about friendship, mathematics and celebrating difference. An ideal gift, and one to be treasured, especially for readers who find maths tricky – like this one!
Síne Quinn is an editor with an M.Phil in Children’s Literature. She is the editor with the Bookmarks Programme at Trinity College Dublin and a Children’s Books Ireland book doctor.