Archive for Friendship

We Found a Hat

Written by Jon Klassen

As usual, Klassen says a little in very few words. Two turtles find a hat. They find it together. It looks great on each of them, but there’s still only one hat. One hat. Two turtles. Not right. One turtle realizes the fair thing to do is leave the hat and forget about it. They walk away. The other turtle looks back with longing. Together, they enjoy a sunset. The first turtle claims to be thinking about the sunset. The second turtle says it’s thinking about nothing, but still looks back at the hat. It’s time to go to sleep. They discuss their dreams. The first turtle has a dream where each of them has a hat. The second turtle goes to sleep and dreams the same dream.

The stark nature of Klassen’s illustration gets the point across that this is a very simple message. Kids will probably note right away that one turtle has square markings, while the other has triangular markings. Simple, but different. They will see that friends share everything, possibly even dreams.

This would make a great read aloud to stimulate discussion of friendship and sharing. Independent reading would certainly reinforce literacy skills. There is a lot to love in this book.

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  • we-found-a-hatTitle: We Found a Hat
  • Author: Jon Klassen
  • Published: Candlewick Press, 2016
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 56 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 3
  • Genre: Fiction, Picture book, Sharing, Friendship
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-5600-3



Fiona’s Little Lie (Felix and Fiona)

Written and Illustrated by Rosemary Wells

Six-year-old Fiona’s heart is in the right place, but she’s so easily distracted. She is so excited when she is chosen by Miss B to be her best friend Felix’s Birthday Elf. This means she can make a fuss over him and provide the treats to celebrate his birthday the next day. Miss B writes her a nice note for her mother to ask for cupcakes, but she loses the note in the car when she sees a caterpillar. Naturally, there are no cupcakes. To cover her blunder, Fiona makes up a story about being robbed of the treats. Quickly caught in her lie, Fiona must apologize not only to Felix, but to Miss B, the class, and those accused of stealing. Fiona feels even worse when Felix describes how much he was looking forward to the cupcakes. Having found the note in the car, Fiona’s mom saves the birthday party. Anything but bran bars!

This sweet little book has a lot to say not only about the consequences of lying, but also about the true roles of friendship. Lessons taught, lessons learned.

The cute, fuzzy creatures that are Fiona, Felix, and the others add to the fun.

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  • fionas-little-lieTitle: Fiona’s Little Lie (Felix and Fiona)
  • Author/Illustrator: Rosemary Wells
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2016
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: K to 3
  • Genre: Picture Book, Friendship
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-7312-3



Alan’s Big, Scary Teeth

Written and illustrated by Jarvis

Be who you are and trust your friends. Those are the main lessons from this entertaining book about an alligator with false teeth.

Alan tries to be scary – just like everyone else in his family. He gnashes his razor sharp teeth at all the animals and has the frogs leaping. And the monkeys tumbling. And the parrots screeching. After a long day of scaring, he relaxes by removing his teeth, storing them in a super-secret hiding place, and going to bed. An early-rising beaver stumbles on the teeth and experiments with them. Alan’s embarrassed by not being so scary any more. He’s so embarrassed, he can’t stop crying. The other animals find his teeth for him but need assurances to give them back. So Alan has to move beyond scaring.

The amusing and colorful mixed-media illustrations make this new parable enjoyable and engaging. Great for independent reading or as a read aloud.

Maybe all these animals can’t live so closely in the real world, but first graders can still learn about cooperation and better uses for their resources.

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  • Alans Big Scary TeethTitle: Alan’s Big, Scary Teeth
  • Author/ Illustrator: Jarvis
  • Published: Candlewick Press, 2016
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 1
  • Genre: Animals, Interpersonal relationships
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-8120-3

Can We Help? Kids Volunteering to Help Their Communities

Written by George Ancona

“I want to help.” It’s something kids say often and they really mean it. But sometimes it is hard for them to think of real jobs they can accomplish on their own.

Full color photographs of actual kids doing worthwhile jobs will help students find realistic goals. This book lists several jobs often overlooked. Bagging fruits and vegetables, as well as going along to deliver meals to shut-ins are things children are very good at accomplishing.

Various clubs take on the responsibility of cleaning certain sections of roadsides, but maybe someone in your class never thought of it. Seeing the kids clean up trash in this book might spark an idea for your local community.

Crafts kids can do that have a useful future are highlighted here as kids are shown making hats and scarves to donate to homeless shelters.

This book will meet the literacy skills of distinguishing fact from fiction, as well as main idea and picture clues. School and public librarians will want to display this book in a high traffic area as there are so few books like it to help kids contribute to their own communities.

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  • Can We HelpTitle: Can We Help? Kids Volunteering to Help Their Communities
  • Author: George Ancona
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-7367-3
  • Genre: Non-fiction
  • Grade level: K to 3

The Seeds of Friendship

Written and Illustrated by Michael Foreman

When Adam and his family move to a new city, he naturally misses the sights and sounds of his old home. The new home seems gray and uninviting. And he has no friends. He draws pictures that remind him of home and asks his parents to tell him stories. He even does outlines of animals from home on the frosted windows in his building. Finally, he gets to see snow for the first time in his life. As a group of kids build a snowman, Adam quietly builds a snow elephant. The kids take up the idea, and they soon have a whole snow zoo. When Adam starts to school, many of his new friends are in his school. His teacher provides him with seeds from the school’s green space, which starts Adam and his friends on the road to a whole series of window boxes and rooftop gardens.

The wonderful text in this book shows how all you need to make a friendship is some common ground. It also shows how a little green space can improve your enjoyment of a place. First graders can start their own little gardens and read more about urban green spaces while practicing their literacy skills.

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  • Seeds of FriendshipTitle: The Seeds of Friendship
  • Author/Illustrator: Michael Foreman
  • Published: Candlewick Press, August 2015
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 3
  • Genre: Fiction, Picture book, Friendship
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-7834-0


Dragon and Captain

Written by P.R. Allabach
Illustrated by Lucas Turnbloom

Dragon (aka a young boy) is eating his oatmeal when he spies a possible pirate on the beach (aka another boy in the sand box). Of course, Captain is not a pirate. He’s a ship captain who’s been separated from his ship. Dragon and Captain set out to find Captain’s ship and re-capture it from the real pirates. First, they need things from Dragon’s cave (er, bedroom). They trek through the dark forest (bushes) and stop at a waterfall (sprinkler). They spot the ship and defeat the pirates. Then it’s snack time. All the while, the grownups lurk in the background abut never interfere. The interaction between imagination and reality is brilliant. It will show kids that anything is possible. The illustrations are vivid and colorful clearly show how each boy resembles his alter ego.

First graders will be able to tell the story from the pictures while still working on their literacy skills through the sparse text. The way the boys immediately get caught up in each other’s fantasies shows how easy friendship can be.

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  • Dragon and CaptainTitle: Dragon and Captain
  • Author: P.R. Allabach
  • Illustrator: Lucas Turnbloom
  • Publisher: Flashlight Press, 2015
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: K to 2
  • Genre: Fiction, simple graphic novel, friendship
  • ISBN: 978-1-9362613-3-8


Written and illustrated by Aaron Becker

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A Caldecott Honor book for the gorgeous, vivid, and detailed illustrations, this book is worth a look just for the pictures, but it has so much more to offer. A young girl’s sepia world is punctuated only by her red scooter, red kite, a red ball, and a red crayon. When she uses the crayon to draw a door, a whole new and colorful world opens up. With castles, windmills, numerous waterways, and various flying contraptions, it’s indeed a fascinating world. The girl finds the crayon can also create a boat, a hot air balloon, and a magic carpet. The magic carpet and a purple bird lead her to a boy with a purple crayon. Together, she and the boy create a bicycle and ride off to more adventures.

This wordless picture book is easily followed by first graders just beginning their reading journey, but would be great as a read aloud so that kids can be encouraged to use imagination about what will come next. Kids could even lead the discussion and practice their speaking and leadership skills. The publisher provides a great “Guide to Reading a Wordless Book” on their website,, with many reading activities.

  • JourneyTitle: Journey
  • Author/Illustrator: Aaron Becker
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2013
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
  • Genre: Picture book, Art, Imagination, Friendship
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-6053-6


Boot & Shoe

Written and illustrated by Marla Frazee

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In this tale of two brotherly dogs, the author captures the beauty of routine and of knowing your best friend well. Boot and Shoe are dogs who live in the same house and have the same routine, but one likes to spend his day on the front porch, while the other naps on the back porch. A pesky squirrel decides to interrupt their happy equilibrium one day with a lot of chattering and running around. They chase him here and there until the squirrel gets bored. Naturally, the brothers end up at the wrong end of the house and cannot find their companion. The search goes on until both dogs have to pee on the same tree and find each other again, causing a kind of reset to their routine.

First graders can handle most of the language on their own, increasing their literacy skills, and will be delighted with the vivid illustrations that give many clues to the action, adding to their comprehension. They will certainly understand the ideas of frustration and wanting to be with a treasured friend. This gem received numerous starred reviews and appeared on many reading lists, including the 2012 ABC Best Books for Children and the 2012 Kirkus Best Children’s Books. The author’s website,, provides a wealth of information, including interviews and podcasts.

  • Boot and ShoeTitle: Boot & Shoe
  • Author/Illustrator: Marla Frazee
  • Publisher: Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster, 2012
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Genre: Picture book, humor, friendship
  • ISBN: 978-1-4424-2247-6


Ben & Zip: Two Short Friends

Written by Joanne Linden
Illustrated by Tom Goldsmith

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Ben is a typical kid on a typical boardwalk with his parents and his best friend, Zip. When the weather becomes threatening, Ben is in a panic wondering what happened to Zip. He begins at kid level and only sees knees – fat, bony, bumpy, and scratched. He climbs to bench level to be confronted by bellies – hairy, jelly, and hanging down. Standing on a picnic table, Ben can see a lot of hair – red, yellow, long, and swirly. He climbs the lifeguard tower only to discover everyone has taken shelter. But he does spot the place where he last saw Zip – a popcorn stand – and runs to the area. Zip, who the reader finds out is a dachshund, has been caught on a post. Ben releases him and waits for the weather to clear.

First graders will love the fact that many of the illustrations are from their perspective. This would be great as a read aloud because all the kids can help look for Zip. In fact, the reader will be driven to go back to the beginning and find all the places Ben, Zip, and each of his parents appear. The illustrations are detailed and lively and do a great job of involving the reader. Along with literacy skills, this book is good for teaching observation skills.

  • Ben & ZipTitle: Ben & Zip: Two Short Friends
  • Author: Joanne Linden
  • Illustrator: Tom Goldsmith
  • Publisher: Flashlight Press, 2014
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Genre: Picture book, fiction, friendship, humor
  • ISBN: 978-1-9362612-8-4

Earth to Clunk

Written by Pam Smallcomb
Illustrated by Joe Berger

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The only thing worse than a pen pal from the planet of Quazar is not having a pen pal from Quazar. Our hero tries to discourage his pen pal, Clunk, by sending him smelly, annoying gifts, only to receive similar packages back from Clunk. In the process, he finds out that our differences are really our strengths. He and Clunk end up being great friends and allies, especially against his sister. The hero sends his sister, smelly socks, a scary drawing, an electric toothbrush, a string of Christmas lights, a note buried in old lasagna, baseball cards, and an invitation. From Clunk, he receives a zoid, three forps, an even scarier picture, something unidentifiable, his returned sister, and a visit from Clunk. He and Clunk make a good team.

Berger’s illustrations do a lot to enhance the story and make the reader laugh. The hero’s determination and surprise show in his expressions. The sister is understandably angry at being shipped off to Quazar. The zoid, forps, and other stuff are hilarious.

First graders have a perfect opportunity to increase their literacy skills. They also learn about friendship and responsibility in a totally silly and sneaky way. Learn more about the author on her website,, and about the illustrator on his website,

  • Earth to ClunkTITLE: Earth to Clunk
  • AUTHOR: Pam Smallcomb
  • ILLUSTRATOR: Joe Berger
  • PUBLISHER: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2011
  • REVIEWER: Sue Poduska
  • ISBN: 978-0-8037-3439-5
  • FORMAT: Hard cover, 32 pages
  • GENRE: Contemporary Fiction, Humor, Friendship