Finding friends shouldn't be so difficult. Ballet-loving bear Lucy is intent on finding a new buddy, but like many of this picture book's future readers, she isn't quite certain about how to seal the friendship deal. Her attempts land her in several embarrassing wildlife situations, but eventually a good-hearted animal fulfills her dream. With its playful illustrations, a gently instructive picture book.
Lucy the bear, who adopted a stubborn boy in Brown's Children Make Terrible Pets, tends to come on a little strong. She wakes up with an optimistic plan to find a pal—"the forest is crawling with fun critters. Surely one of them will want to be my friend," she tells her mother—and skips into the woods, wearing a pink tutu and an overeager grin. Brown's panels, framed by ironic wood-grain backdrops, show Lucy's overtures being rejected by a zoo's worth of fauna including a beaver, giraffe, and ostrich. Upon meeting a swarm of bees for "lunch," she runs away dripping with honey and calling, "Sorry I ate your house!" Lucy's only enthusiastic playmates are four human preschoolers, and even she feels overwhelmed by them. Like its predecessor, this outing features an earth-tone palette, pencil illustrations, cut-paper voice bubbles, and hand-lettered display type; Lucy's wilderness is thoroughly domesticated. Brown jokes about enforced companionship, yet doesn't abandon his heroine, acquainting her with a willing ally when things seem their grimmest. Readers won't miss the message that friendship is something that happens in its own time. Ages 3–6. (Sept.)
"Finding a friend is less a matter of sheer will than quiet acceptance in this charming new work...Handlettered speech balloons and wood borders give the book a rustic but friendly feel, with endpapers that should not be missed."Kirkus Reviews
"I click with this book. Brown has pushed his style past its smoother beginnings...into a homemade hybrid of pencil and construction paper and even wood. Who knows how he does it, really? The appeal of YOU WILL BE MY FRIEND! is as deep a mystery as friendship, but I'm not interested in delving into its mysteries. I just want to take it to lunch."Daniel Handler in The New York Times
PreS-Gr 2—Lucy, the bear who tried to adopt a boy in Children Make Terrible Pets (Little, Brown, 2010), is on the hunt for a new friend. While she searches the forest, speech bubbles capture her fervent anticipation: "We're going to do cartwheels! And climb trees! And have picnics! And have a dance party!" A frog invites her to play, but Lucy's overzealous belly flop empties out the pond. She dryly comments, "Things didn't work out." Bees invite Lucy to lunch, but she ends up eating their hive. Brown's quirky wood-grain-bordered illustrations show the cub's over-the-top tactics to fit in, from squeezing down a rabbit hole to gnawing tree trunks beside a beaver. After all of her overtures are rebuffed, she resorts to threats: "Come back here and have fun with me!" "You won't get any snacks unless you start liking me RIGHT NOW." When Lucy finally relaxes her approach, a flamingo pal comes her way. Readers will be won over by this witty, slapstick story of friendship found.—Linda Ludke, London Public Library, Ontario, Canada
Finding a friend is less a matter of sheer will than quiet acceptance in this charming new work.
Picture-book heroines are rarely quite as irrepressible as Lucy the tutu-and-bow–clad bear fromChildren Make Terrible Pets(2010). Now a follow-up tackles the difficult task precocious children face when seeking out companionship. Fueled more by enthusiasm than sense, Lucy informs her mother that on this day she is going to find herself a brand-new friend. Yet while her intentions are good, Lucy's befriending techniques are a bit brash for the woodland creatures she encounters. Even threats don't work, so Lucy declares her task hopeless, until another bow-wearing animal fulfills Lucy's greatest wishes. Brown has pinpointed the problems some kids face in befriending their fellows, though few would come on as strong as his heroine. The language is the real lure here, with Lucy's single-mindedness best illustrated when she informs an egg, "You WILL be my friend! I can wait." Handlettered speech balloons and wood borders give the book a rustic but friendly feel, with endpapers that should not be missed.
While many friendship stories verge on twee, this title eschews the cute and allows kids to both identify with and pity Lucy's struggle to find her own bosom companion.(Picture book. 4-8)
I click with this book. Brown has pushed his style past its smoother beginnings, in books like Chowder and Flight of the Dodo, into a homemade hybrid of pencil and construction paper and even wood. Who knows how he does it, really? The appeal of You Will Be My Friend! is as deep a mystery as friendship, but I'm not interested in delving into its mysteries. I just want to take it to lunch.
The New York Times