Amos and Boris in Amos and Boris by William Steig
Curious George and The Man in the Yellow Hat in the Curious George stories by H.A. and Margret Rey
Frances and Thelma in A Bargain for Frances by Russell Hoban
Frog and Toad in Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel
George and Martha in George and Martha by James Marshall
Ira and Reggie in Ira Sleeps Over by Bernard Waber
Rosie and Michael by Rosie and Michael by Judith Viorst
Tim and Ginger in Tim and Ginger by Edward Ardizzone
Cowley, Joy. Snake and Lizard. La Jolla, Calif. : Kane/Miller, 2007.
Cowley, Joy. Friends: Snake and Lizard. Wellington, N.Z.: Gecko Press, 2011, c2009.
Alary, Laura. What Grew in Larry’s Garden. Toronto: Kids Can Press, 2020.
Gardens bring friendship and understanding. They build goodwill in a world often filled with fear and loneliness. This quietly gentle picture book illustrated by Kass Reich is based on the true story of a Toronto schoolteacher who showed his students how to grow tomato plants and share them with others. “We can figure this out,” he says over and over again to his young neighbour Grace when problems arise. Highly recommended for gardeners of all ages.
Forler, Nan. Rodney was a Tortoise. Toronto: Tundra Books, 2022.
Bernadette loves her friend, Rodney. They have contests, play dress up games, and enjoy treats together. In the evenings, she reads him stories of the outdoors. At night, he sleeps in a tank beside her bed. The two of them are the best of companions. But one day, Rodney stops moving. He has died, and not even a funeral and remembering all the lessons he taught her can ease the grief. At school, everyone goes about their usual life, talking about their usual concerns, while she withdraws further and further into sadness until one day a classmate – Amar – comes to sit beside her out in the playground. And slowly Bernadette comes back to life. The soft watercolour and pencil illustrations by Young Ling Kang help tell this gentle story recommended for anyone who has ever lost a beloved friend.
Questions to talk about…
How do we gladly make accommodations for the weaknesses of our friends?
What have our friends taught us about how to live a good life?
How do we protect ourselves when in pain?
How do we reenter life after deep grief?
Bobby and Alicia in Things Not Seen by Andrew Clements
Catherine and Jason and in Rules by Cynthia Lord
Chloe and Jordy in Becoming Chloe by Catherine Ryan Hope
Frannie and Jesus in Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson
Harry, Ron and Hermione in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Henry and Beezus in Henry and Beezus by Beverly Cleary
Isla and Harry in Flyaway by Lucy Christopher
Jess and Leslie in Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Katniss and Peeta in The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Leo and Stargirl in Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Maia and Finn in Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson
Meg and Calvin in A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Rosie and Bailey in Granny Torelli Makes Soup by Sharon Creech
Soup and Robert in Soup by Robert Newton Peck
Tal and Naim in A Bottle in the Gaza Sea by Valerie Zenatti
Creech, Sharon. Saving Winslow. New York: Joanna Cotler Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2018.
Louie’s father often brings home small animals needing to be rescued. Most of the time, they don’t survive. Louie usually doesn’t have any better luck. The worms he brought home? Dead after two days. The lightning bugs? Dead after three days. But Louie is determined. When his father brings home a motherless mini donkey on a cold January morning, Louie decides that this time he will succeed: Winslow will live. Beautifully written and heart-warming, this 165-page novel is most highly recommended for animal lovers 8 to 12 years old.
P.S. Of course, all Sharon Creech stories are amazing works of art. But this one is outstanding in its introduction to themes to encourage conversation between children and adults. How can you love someone if you know they might disappear? How do you regain hope after loss? How can you joyfully help someone fulfill their purpose in life even though it means they will leave you?
Springstubb, Tricia. The Most Perfect Thing in the Universe. New York: Margaret Ferguson Books/Holiday House, 2021.
Eleven-year-old Loah Londonderry is left with elderly caretakers when her mother goes on an Arctic research expedition to study a rare species of bird. While Loah enjoys being at home, she desperately misses her mother and counts down the days until her return. Only her mother doesn’t return. She goes missing. It is up to Loah to sound the alarm. This pitch-perfect novel of friendship and courage is highly recommended for readers 10 to 14 years old.
P.S. Always check out novels published by Margaret Ferguson Books. They tend to be stories of adventure and grace.
“Expeditions come in every size and shape. You can be an explorer without ever leaving home.” (p. 172)
Timberlake, Amy. Skunk and Badger. Toronto: HarperCollins, 2020.
There is Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel. George and Martha by James Marshall. Snake and Lizard by Joy Cowley. And now there is Skunk and Badger! Two mismatched roommates become the best of friends in this hilarious story illustrated by Jon Klassen. Badger is happy living alone – working on his important rock collection – until Skunk appears at the door, apparently permitted to move into the brownstone by Badger’s Aunt Lula. Badger’s quiet orderly life is abruptly upended by this noisy messy Skunk. What is to be done? How are the two going to resolve their differences? This 122-page little novel is most highly recommended for readers 7 years old and up. Especially readers who like to laugh. Especially readers who appreciate the joys of unexpected friendships.
Ohi, Ruth. Fox and Squirrel, the Best Christmas Ever. Toronto: North Winds Press, 2016.
What makes a great Christmas? Snow! Presents! Fancy food! And decorations, of course. Two friends go for a walk in the woods to find more decorations in this cheerful picture book with full-page water colour illustrations. Highly recommended for children 3 to 6 years old.
P.S. You, yourself, might like to take a nature walk with a friend afterwards.
Anne and Gilbert in Anne of Green Gables by L.C. Montgomery
Charlotte and Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
D’Artagnan and his three companions in The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
Dorothy and Toto in The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Frodo and Sam in Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Heidi and Clara in Heidi by Johanna Spyri
Ponyboy and Johnny in The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Ratty and Mole in The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Sterling and his raccoon in Rascal by Sterling North
Tom and Huck Finn in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Winnie-the-Pooh and Christopher Robin in Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne