This picture book is about a boy named Dennis. And then it’s about being a friend.
Dennis is the one the other kids call “mime boy.” You can see why. He has his own unique way of expressing himself that doesn’t involve talking. (He’s got a wardrobe full of striped shirts and a poster of Marcel Marceau of course.)
(click image(s) to enlarge)
See the girl with the sunflower? You might not catch it on a first read, but she’s not speaking either. She’s hugging her flower. That hug and the tilt of her foot tell us something about her. She moves about in the world a little differently. (As does Dennis.) I think we’re supposed to keep our eye on her.
The black and white and red of Salina Yoon’s illustrations with sepia backgrounds take us back in time. It’s almost like Dennis is starring in his own silent movie. And he’s happy there. But the thing is, he’s also all alone.
And there’s that sunflower girl again on the swing. We’ve been watching her and she’s been watching Dennis. She’s ready when he kicks an invisible ball her direction. She’s been waiting for a moment just like that. See her expression and the colors of her dress? See how these two mirror each other even though they’re not exactly the same? That’s friendship. That’s being a friend.
This lovely book is perfect for Valentine’s Day because it’s about the kind of love that friends share. The kind that sees differences and beyond them, that catches the ball and tosses it back, that gives a great big laughing JAZZ HANDS when the time is right.
Big thanks to Salina Yoon for images!
I’m so excited to premiere Emily Arrow‘s Be a Friend song and video with you here! She is a super big talent, a lover of picture books, and, thematically for this post, a friend.
So good, right?! Especially fun to see four-year old Nicole shaking her JAZZ HANDS with Emily and being a total sweetie-pie. (She’s the daughter of Salina Yoon’s literary agent.) You can tell those two became friends during the video shoot.
And here’s the great news: Emily’s album, “Storytime Singalong” launches on February 20th! You’re invited to her special album launch party at Once Upon a Time Bookstore to celebrate. And if you can’t make it, you can pre-order so you’ll be humming these tunes in no time! (P.S. The adorable cover was designed by picture book creator Ashlyn Anstee.)
There are eleven tracks on this first volume, most of them featuring a picture book-inspired song, all of them fantastic. Emily is the real deal. She trained at Berklee College and has taught music to elementary school students. She plays the guitar and uke and she can sing beautifully!
Emily gets to the essence of a book and translates it into music kids adore and interact with. And for grownups? Her songs are sigh-inducing. Sigh.
Most importantly, these melodies make you immediately want to sing along! (I know I do.) Check out her videos to see what I mean!
To friends and books and songs!