On Best Friends: A Book Flight

~posted by Ruth

Bff-elephantsThe New Year has brought us time for reflection–and gratitude for so many things.  Among them, our friends and family.  And our BFF’s.   Which sent us straight to our bookshelves to indulge in books that focus on that all-important relationship, in all its struggles and celebrations.  Perfect for a Book Flight.  So, we offer the following books for all the readers in your family, beginning with a read-aloud that’s a wonderful book in its own right, and is a fine exploration of the power of friendship.  (FYI:  I can vouch from personal experience for sixth-graders enjoying this book as a read-aloud.  Not to mention their weekly classroom volunteer, moi.)

Family (or Classroom) Readaloud:

IvanThe One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Patricia Castelao

Ivan is a gorilla, who has pretty much accepted his life in captivity, with his only companions Bob (a stray dog) and Stella (an aging elephant).  All this changes for Ivan when a new baby elephant, Ruby, arrives and opens Ivan’s eyes to long-dormant emotions and a rising recognition of his urge to create.  This compelling tale has characters and themes that stay with you.  A delight for the adults reading the story aloud; all members of the family with be captivated by this one.

Nursery and Preschool:

RubyHello, My Name is Ruby by Philip C. Stead

Ruby is a small yellow bird who is eager to make friends with other birds.  She meets rejection from a striking and beautiful large bird, and also makes friends with a “curious bird.”  Ruby’s emotions are captured with very few words and expressive illustrations.  She meets many different birds–including some who look like her.  Ruby herself is a delight, and the power of friendship shines through the simple  yet compelling picture book.

Early Readers:

BinkBink and Gollie: Best Friends Forever by Kate DiCamillo and Allison McGhee

Bink and Gollie so perfectly capture the ups and downs of being “Best Friends Forever.”  Opposites in so many ways, they make a striking pair:  Bink, short with crazy hair and Gollie, smooth-haired and tall.  We get to know their personalities even better in this third installment of the series.  A perfect young reader chapter book, this one is also great for read-alouds, especially if you like using funny voices.  Whether they are putting on airs or breaking world records, Bink and Gollie are a winning duo.


Elephant-and-PiggieI Will Surprise My Friend ( Elephant and Piggie) by Mo Willems

All the Elephant and Piggie books are an ode to friendship.  But this one in particular focuses on their best friend status, despite their differences.  It’s incredible how Mo Willems can express emotion and humor with so few words, and simple but elegant line drawings.  Squirrel makes an appearance in this one, giving the friends the idea that it’s fun to jump out a scare your buddy.  Of course, hilarity ensues.  Loved by kids and parents alike.


Best-FriendsBest Friends by Jacqueline Wilson

You can’t have a longer life-time friendship than Gemma and Alice.  They were born on the same day in the same hospital.  Doesn’t matter that they’re every different in personalities and interests, they are inseparable.  Until– Alice’s family moves to faraway Scotland (500 miles, not over an ocean, but still pretty far!), and they can’t see each other every day.  Despite trials and tribulations, the girls learn that a friendship can last over time and distances.  Perfect for younger tweens (maybe grades 4th through 7th? )  Fun to read about British school girls for a glimpse of a different culture, too.


JoshuaJoshua Dread by Lee Bacon

Joshua and his  best friend Milton are working hard, trying to save the Dread Duo, a pair of supervillains. Yup, not a typo.  The Dread Duo happen to be Joshua’s parents!  It’s an action-packed page-turner about the ups and downs of  life in middle school–and trying to both save your parents–and keep them from destroying the world.  Oh, and Joshua is also “gyfted” with the power of spontaneous combustion.  Lots of fun–and best of all, the first in a new series!

Young Adult

An-AbundanceAn Abundance of Katherines by John Green

It might be a coincidence that Colin’s girlfriends have all been named Katherine.  That is, if the count was at 2 or 3.  But 19?  When the 19th Katherine dumps him, Colin and his best friend Hassan, just graduated from high school, decide the only cure must be a road trip.  Colin is convinced he is already a has-been–once a prodigy but no-longer. . .However, as readers we aren’t convinced of his washed up status.  He still works on mathematical puzzles and theorems, shares a great sense of humor with his road buddy–and ultimately with a new girl whose name is–wait for it–Lindsey!  If you haven’t read John Green before, what are you waiting for?  One of the brightest stars of the contemporary YA authors.


GuernseyThe Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie  Society by Mary Anne Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Another ode to friendship–and all things literary–set in 1946 in London and on the Guernsey Islands.   Tragic stories and letters of the Nazi occupation–and the power of stories and community to help us survive and be nourished during hard times.  Warm-hearted, genuine, and funny.  I loved the characters and felt as if they were my friends, too.


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