Will You Be My Friend? / The Purple Puffy Coat

Here are two enormously enjoyable but very different books, each of which has friendship at its heart. Thanks to Walker Books who sent them for review.

Will You Be My Friend?
Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram

This gorgeous sequel to Guess How Much I Love You (now celebrating its 25th anniversary) comes with a touch of sadness as author Sam McBratney died recently. The new story continues on from the first with Little Nutbrown Hare venturing out to look for a playmate. Initially he finds only replicas – a reflection and a shadow of himself.

But then up on Cloudy Mountain he comes face to face with the real thing. It’s Tipps, the Cloudy Mountain Hare and she too wants a friend and playmate.

They play chase and engage in other fun activities, followed by a game of hide and seek. Tipps goes off to hide but will Little Nutbrown Hare ever see her again?

Another timeless treasure and classic to be, to add to family bookshelves and to share with early years children.

The Purple Puffy Coat
Maribeth Boelts and Daniel Duncan

With Stick Insect’s birthday just a week away, his pal Beetle just can’t wait to give Stick Insect his present. It’s a purple puffy coat, wonderfully warm and ideal for wearing when the two go out for walks together. There’s a slight snag though for Stick Insect is rather an introvert and isn’t sure this rather ostentatious coat is quite his style. However, Beetle insists that he dons the new garment and off they both go to show off this ‘generous gift’ around town. And so they do: Beetle boasts and Stick Insect keeps well out of the way.

And even when the former notices what’s happening, he’s adamant that that a daily outing in the coat will get his friend used to being looked at.

On the eve of the birthday, Beetle decides that he’ll give his friend a second gift. And it’s while preparing it that he realises what Stick Insect’s recent glum expression signifies.

Time to reconsider the coat situation and to fix things once and for all …

This wry lesson about respecting and understanding one another’s differences is delivered through a text that’s largely dialogue between the two friends and Daniel Duncan’s delightfully droll illustrations of the rise and fall of the purple puffy coat and those that either wear it or encounter it being worn about town.

Kaia and the Bees

Kaia and the Bees
Maribeth Boelts and Angela Dominguez
Walker Books

Kaia is pretty fearless but there’s one notable exception: having been stung on the foot, she’s super scared about bees despite her dad being a bee-keeper with two hives on the roof of their apartment home.

Dad does his level best to enthuse his daughter about his favourite topic but it takes being found out about her aversion by the children who also live in her block for Kaia to overcome her melissophobia.

With protective suit on she follows her Dad up the stairs and out onto the roof. There her bee education continues apace and her fear of the little insects slowly diminishes

until she thoughtlessly removes one of her gloves and OUCH! Kaia is stung again. “I’m never EVER going near those bees again!” she cries and sticks to her word.

Soon comes the time for collecting the honey from the hives. The family work hard all day in the kitchen filling jars with sweet smelling golden honey.

Then Dad’s “It’s a mystery, isn’t it!’ awakens a feeling of wonder in the girl and later, after another bee encounter, Kaia understands something about the tiny creatures that she’d never considered before.

At last she appreciates just how incredible bees are and alongside that, she finally feels brave inside.

Maribeth Boelts’ story that gently educates about the importance of bees is written from the perspective of being part of a bee-keeping family and she fully appreciates both how awesome and vital to our ecosystem the creatures are, as well as understanding that some people might, like Kaia, feel scared unless helped to overcome their fear. This understanding can be applied to a fear of anything, making the book even more helpful.

I love that Kaia’s family live in an urban location; and Angela Dominguez’s mixed-media illustrations both provide detail about bee keeping and clearly show the characters’ feelings throughout.