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What Are Friends For?


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Grindley's (Breaking the Spell) sugary tale of friendship teeters precariously close to the precious. "A friend is for playing," burly Jefferson Bear tells the curious fox, Figgy Twosocks, when she asks him the titular question. So they play hide-and-seek, and Figgy makes it easy for her buddy to find her when it becomes apparent that her nimbler, smaller physique has a clear advantage. Learning that "A friend is for sharing," the fox then drags a large branch from a blackberry bush to the bear's side and feeds him berries. Their felicitous rapport hits a snag, but a reconciliation comes with mutual apologies and a reaffirmation of their friendship for, in JB's closing words, "A friend is forever." Dann's unadorned illustrations, reproduced on unusually sturdy coated stock, mirrors the story's sweet simplicity. Her depictions of the amiable pals' comically changeable facial expressions are the high point of this prosaic escapade. Ages 2-6. (Apr.)

PreS-K‘Figgy Twosocks and Jefferson Bear do all of the things that buddies do. They play together, they share, and they help one another. In addition, they exchange platitudes such as "That's what friends are for" and "A friend is forever." They also have a predictable fight and make up just as predictably. While this book could be effective in explaining the concept of friendship to young children, the story is not compelling and the characters are not very interesting. Only the superior artwork and page design lift this book to a level worth considering for purchase. The relationship between the small red fox and the big tawny bear comes to life in Dann's delightful illustrations. In one scene, Figgy Twosocks sits on the big stomach of Jefferson Bear, tossing blackberries into his open mouth. In another, a little white tail peeks out of a pile of autumn leaves during a game of hide-and-seek. Although children will find pleasure in turning the pages of this attractive book over and over again, old favorites such as Arnold Lobel's Days with Frog and Toad (HarperCollins, 1979) provide a more entertaining exploration of friendship.‘Jackie Hechtkopf, Talent House School, Fairfax, VA

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