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Sam McBratney has been writing children's books for nearly thirty years. His bestselling book Guess How Much I Love You, illustrated by Anita Jeram, has sold more than 16 million copies worldwide and continues to sell a million copies a year. He lives outside of Belfast, Northern Ireland. Jennifer Eachus studied graphic design in England at the Liverpool College of Art and worked as a preschool teacher before becoming a full-time illustrator. She is the illustrator of The Big Big Sea, written by Martin Waddell, and winner of the Benson and Hedges Gold Award for Illustration. Ms. Eachus lives with her husband and three children in Wales.
McBratney (Guess How Much I Love You) explores the ups and downs of friendship in this ambiguously resolved picture book. He begins with forthright prose ("I have a friend I love the best. She plays at my house every day, or else I play at hers"), describing a camaraderie most children can relate to, but the book stumbles when things go wrong for the two pals. Unlike the more focused approach in his other books, McBratney doesn't explain the rift nor does he end with the resolution implied by the title. Instead, the book concludes on a hypothetical note that may confuse children: "If my friend were as sad as I am sad, this is what she would do: She would come and say, `I'm sorry,' and I would say sorry, too." The artwork, however, does depict the promise of reconciliation in the air. In a series of nostalgic and softly shaded realistic portraits, Eachus (The Big Sea) gives a wider scope to the simple text, elaborating on such unadorned remarks as "She plays at my house every day" with scenes of a boy and a girl examining a fish tank full of polliwogs and climbing over a gate in the yard. Even when rendering quintessential "childhood" moments (e.g., the rubber-booted pair ambling down a muddy lane), she manages to avoid the precious or overblown. Ages 3-7. (May) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
PreS-K-Even the closest friendship must weather the occasional storm. Such is the case with a preschool boy and girl who share in all kinds of creative play. Theirs is a relationship made in heaven until harsh words are spoken and they shout at one another. The boy describes his anger, feigned indifference, sadness, and loneliness all resulting from the spat. He muses that if his friend were as sad as he is "She would come and say, `I'm sorry,' and I would say sorry, too." While the youngster's desire for reconciliation is admirable, these sentiments give a mixed message about apologizing. Additionally, the cause of the disagreement is not explained in either the pictures or the text. Since many young children are very concerned with issues of fairness, this omission may be troubling, even though the point is clearly not to assign blame to either child. Lovely illustrations represent the preschoolers and their familiar surroundings with a softened realism. Renderings of the children's faces are especially effective in conveying the emotions McBratney describes. Despite some modest quibbles with the story line, this gentle vignette nicely portrays a friendship between the genders.-Rosalyn Pierini, San Luis Obispo City-County Library, CA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.