Friday, June 07, 2019

At the Bottom of the Big Slide: A Friend for Henry by Jenn Bailey

It isn't always easy to find a friend.

In Classroom Six, second left down the hall, Henry was looking for a friend.

But Vivianne, who shares his easel in art, is like a kaleidescope--all mixed-up colors. Even her fingernails are each a different color.

"My mommy painted them!" Vivianne waved her hands too close to Henry's face.

"Painting on people is against the rules!" said Henry.

But when Henry tries to befriend Vivianne by painting rainbows on her shoes, she gets really angry! Henry doesn't understand. And when Henry arranges the carpet tiles in a perfect pattern for story time, boisterous Samuel leaps onto them and scatters the squares, claiming it is his magic carpet. And when Henry logically points at the label which clearly shows they came from Rug World, Samuel refuses to listen.

At snack time Jayden takes three crackers, not two, like Mrs. Magoon said. Riley makes a muddy worm nest right on the swing seats at recess. Nobody seems to follow the rules.

At free time, Henry sits alone,watching the class goldfish, Gilly, swim around in his bowl. He's alone, too. But then Katie comes over. She likes Gilly.
"Want to play blocks?" Henry asks. He adds, "I don't like triangles."

And Katie's good with a triangle-free construction, in Jenn Bailey's A Friend for Henry (Chronicle Books, 2019), and it looks like he and Katie are going to be the kind of friends who can make and keep each other's special rules. Finding a good friend is a bit like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, and finding the right match can be hard, as shown in this insightful story of making friends that can share and still respect differences.

Mika Song's gentle black-line illustrations add depth to this account of the personal accommodation that friendship requires. Says Kirkus Reviews, "Whether on the spectrum or not, friends don't have to share everything, just enough, and this book sweetly provides."

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