9781935954231I discussed Mies van Hout’s Happy not long ago and am delighted that she has a second book now available in the US, entitled Friends (Lemniscaat, $17.95). This book utilizes a similar structure as Happy; the double-page spreads feature an illustration of two monsters and one word of text. The oil pastels on black paper once again create vibrant and engaging illustrations. The words in the text identify different aspects of friendship and there is an overarching narrative, which starts with “play” moves quickly to “bore” and then all the problems that can sometimes arise in friendships: tease, fight, cry. The monsters soon start to recognize the error of their ways and experience embarrassment and hope, eventually leading back to laugh, trust, and finally cuddle. Despite the seeming simplicity of the one-word text, the subtleties of this narrative might be beyond a younger child, although they will probably appreciate the fun illustrations. I would recommend this book for ages 4-6, when kids really start experiencing the highs and lows of friendship. You might even want to read it with middle-school kids, when they feel like they’ve been abandoned and need to remember that true friends come back.

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