my best friend by julie fogliano & jillian tamaki
my best friend
by julie fogliano & jillian tamaki
review copy from Atheneum Books
Reading my best friend feels like finding a new best friend. Fogliano and Tamaki are a pitch perfect pair: the childish, straightforward simplicity of the voice of the narrator is entirely at one with the ebullient, energetic joy that emotes from every illustration of the new friends. The duo capture perfectly that window of childhood when we have not yet learned to edit ourselves, hold ourselves back, judge ourself and others.
Tamaki's illustrations begin telling the story, with a close up of the narrator. Turning to the title page, readers see the same child leaning on a swing set, gazing at a child on the tire swing. A page turn and the two are swinging and laughing and the story begins, "i have a new friend," the absence of capitalization and punctuation adding to the unfettered exuberance of the experience. The duo turn their hands into quacking ducks, the illustrations and palette evoking McCloskey's classic, Make Way for Ducklings. The new friend knows how to turn leaves into "skeleton hands," and she knows how to un-crumple flowers that have been accidentally stepped on. The narrator revels in the fun of hiding with a best friend and trying not to laugh while playing hide-and-seek, and she knows that they are in fact best friends because, "she LOVES strawberry ice cream and i HATE strawberry ice cream and we are still friends even then so that is something good." As my best friend comes to a close, so does the the day at the park. Scooped up by their caregivers, each child looks at the other, the narrator saying, "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 final page of my best friend, which is also the copyright and dedication page, shows the narrator and her caregiver walking off, hand in hand, the narrator turning to glance back at her new best friend - the reader?