There are so many people in the kidlit world who are full of heart and soul and that heart and soul carries over into their writing and or illustration. Salina Yoon is one of these people, and we get to experience this in Be a Friend. And you'll see that if you get to see this book in it's entirety, despite publishing tons of books all over the world, Salina retains a loving generosity and innocence that shines especially brightly in Be a Friend.
Be a Friend is a heartwarming story about friendship and courage for anyone who has ever felt like they don’t fit in. The universal theme of this story appeals to a wide readership; people of all ages can relate to being different, feeling left out or feeling lonely. And, everyone can find hope in its underlying message of individuality, friendship and acceptance.
Dennis is a young boy who expresses himself in “extraordinary ways.” Unlike the other children, Dennis does not speak. He does not show or tell. He mimes. He acts in scenes and he dresses like Marcel Marceau, all black and white stripes, a big top hat and a painted face. And, he is happy to be himself.
Except that sometimes, Dennis gets a little lonely.
While the other kids play, Dennis feels invisible and stuck behind a wall. Yet, even in this isolated space, Dennis does not change himself to fit in. One day, he kicks an imaginary ball and someone catches it! And that’s where the big shift happens for both Dennis and the reader.
Salina’s soft, subdued illustrations perfectly complement the simple words of the story. The natural brown backgrounds accentuate Dennis’ black and white stripes, without ostracizing him from the other, more colorfully clad children. His new friend, clothed in black and white polka-dots, has a red stripe around her dress that matches the red heart pinned to Dennis’ shirt and his imaginary world. Eventually, the red, dotted lines bring the two children together and so much more.
The illustrations add layers of meaning to the story, to be discovered with each additional reading. We find his special friend has been there all along, in her own world, watching Dennis. Colors have intentional significance. The red, dotted line represents many different emotions, ideas and themes. Dennis’ heart moves as the story progresses. Salina puts deep thought into the smallest details of the book, and this will bring readers young and old back for more.
Be a Friend is more than a story about being different. It celebrates individuality and imagination and explores various types of communication. It illustrates the strength and power of friendship and encourages readers, both young and old, to truly see the beauty in others. It’s a beautiful book full of heart and soul and meaning for both children and adults. Yay Salina Yoon!
And for those of you who would like to watch a wee video about the book here it is.
AND now for the Giveaway - after Salina read this by surprise - she offered a GIVEAWAY autographed copy of this exquisite book!!! Just post a comment below and Salina will send you a copy. Extra points for creativity and you can post twice if you like :) I'll post the winner Wednesday morning with an email to send me your name and address!
And we have a WINNER! Melodye, thank you for your lovely, lovely comments on Salina's fabulous book! I will be contacting you shortly to make sure you receive your new autographed copy of Be a Friend. Congratulations!!
We are so excited to be mixing things up at CBA, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome new bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with Clear Fork/Spork editor/art director, former agent and former kidlit professor Mira Reisberg PhD who is also the Director of the Children's Book Academy.
2nd Mondays will feature super smart Melissa Stoller whose career is taking off with several new books.
3rd Mondays will feature Bryan Patrick Avery, published writer, man of mystery, and professional magician among other things.
4th Mondays will feature the fabulous debut author/illustrator Maggie Brown.
And 5th Mondays will feature a surprise reprise from over nine years of archives.