by Bryan Patrick Avery
Seigfried & Roy and Penn & Teller are just two of the many magic acts featuring friends and/or partners. When done right, a magical pairing can add mystery, tension, and excitement to a performance. The same is true in books. This month, we take a look at three books made stronger by friendship. First up, Salina Yoon’s picture book “Be a Friend”.
Dennis is a mime. Joy is not. From afar, she watches Dennis. Ultimately, she enters Dennis’s world and they become friends. The most wonderful part of their friendship is that Dennis and Joy don’t have to change to become closer. They simply share a part of themselves.
“Be a Friend” was recommended to me as a comp title for a picture book I’m working on and I instantly fell in love.
“Danger! Tiger Crossing” is the first book in Lin Oliver’s Fantastic Frame series. It is the story of Tiger Brooks, who moves into a new neighborhood and very quickly discovers some very strange things, including a talking pig in a top hat. He and Luna Lopez become friends and soon find adventure, and danger, when they get dragged into a painting in the house next door. It is only by working together that the two friends make it back home safely.
What’s truly great about the Fantastic Frame series is that the friendship between Tiger and Luna is what keeps them coming back to the frame (and the danger!). They stand by each other and let nothing stand in their way. By the way, if you’re in the market for a new chapter book, “Look Out! Ghost Mountain Below”, the latest in the series was just released.
Our last book this month is “The Great Greene Heist” by Varian Johnson. We follow the actions of middle schooler Jackson Greene who is notorious for his capers. After a scheme goes horribly wrong, Greene attempts to go straight. When he fears that a devious student may attempt to buy the election for student council president, Greene reaches out to his friends to plan one more job with the aim of stealing the election for his friend Gaby.
Greene reaches out to a diverse set of friends, all with various skills (and challenges) from tech gurus Hasemi and Megan, to artist Bradley and reporter (and confidante) Charlie, Greene builds a team to pull of the greatest heist ever. He even enlists Victor Cho to bankroll the job. A political thriller set in middle school may seem like a strange undertaking, but the author has crafted a suspenseful political story without losing any of the voice and charm of middle grade fiction. That is, in no small part, due to the friendship dynamics in the book.
If you're wondering whether Jackson Greene changes his ways after this heist, the next book in the series, “To Catch a Cheat”, will be out next week.
That’s all for this month. I’m off to finish my own story about friendship. Wish me luck. Have a magical month!
We are so excited to be mixing things up at the Children's Book Academy. Mondays with Mandy or Mira is now the Blogfish!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays will feature award-winning former agent and former kidlit professor Mira Reisberg PhD who is also the Director of the Children's Book Academy.
2nd Mondays will feature reading specialist and MFA in creative writing graduate Mandy Yates has been published multiple times in Highlights Magazine.
3rd Mondays will feature Bryan Patrick Avery, published writer, man of mystery, and professional magician among other things.
4th Mondays will feature the great Christine Taylor-Butler who has published over 70 award-winning fiction and non-fiction and nonfiction books including the acclaimed new middle grade series - The Lost Tribes.
And 5th Mondays will feature will feature the fabulous Carl Angel, award-winning multi-published Illustrator and graphic designer.
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