August 20, 2014

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Friendship-Making 101: Picture Books for Elementary Students | JLG’s On the Radar

Making friends can be difficult for everyone. The following picture book selections by Junior Library Guild editors offer characters who find kindred spirits where they least expect them.

Ben Rides On Friendship Making 101: Picture Books for Elementary Students | JLG’s On the RadarDAVIES, Matt. Ben Rides On. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter. 2013. ISBN 9781596437944. JLG Level: P+ : Primary (Grades K–1).

Ben’s life revolves around two things: avoiding his bully, Adrian, and dreaming of revenge. After his tormentor steals his bike, Ben discovers an opportunity to retaliate, ridding himself of an unending threat. He finds Adrian hanging off a branch on the side of a cliff. “How extraordinarily terrible,” he thinks. It would be so easy to take his broken bike and walk away, but would that be the right thing to do? In his first book for young readers, Davies captures the emotional upheaval of confronting bullies and choosing right from wrong.

Henrys Hand Friendship Making 101: Picture Books for Elementary Students | JLG’s On the RadarMACDONALD, Ross. Henry’s Hand. Abrams. Oct. 2013. ISBN 9781419705274. JLG Level: P+ : Primary (Grades K–1).

Having removable body parts had disadvantages for Henry. He might misplace a foot or lose an eye under the couch. Happily, Henry’s best friend, Hand, is never far away. They go everywhere together―until he begins to take his friend for granted. Running away from the ungrateful companion seems the only thing Hand can do. His new life instantly changes when he crosses a downtown street and saves a man from being hit by a car. He becomes a hero, surrounded by admirers. But he still feels alone―he misses his friend. Henry realizes it’s his fault that Hand is never coming back. Is it too late to mend their friendship? Humor and tenderness in text and illustration create a timeless fable.

Bogart Friendship Making 101: Picture Books for Elementary Students | JLG’s On the RadarVERNICK, Audrey. Bogart and Vinnie: A Completely Made-Up Story of True Friendship. illus. by Henry Cole. Bloomsbury/Walker. 2013. ISBN 9780802728234. JLG Level: HE : Humor Elementary (Grades 2–6).

“Vinnie, a crazy-happy dog, was lost.” Finding a home in a wildlife shelter seems to be the mostly unlikely place for a lost pet to find a friend. With dogged determination, the canine bonds with Bogart, a lonely rhinoceros. When their uncommon relationship becomes big news, Vinnie’s owners rush to rescue their pet. How can anyone separate a true friendship? Beloved illustrator Cole adds balloon captions to Vernick’s charming story of two unexpected pals.

YPenguin on vacation Friendship Making 101: Picture Books for Elementary Students | JLG’s On the RadarOON, Salina. Penguin on Vacation. Bloomsbury/Walker. Dec. 2013. ISBN 9781596437944. JLG Level: P+: Primary (Grades K–1).

Penguin needs a vacation; he’s tired of skiing, sledding, and skating on the ice. Heading north, he sails for the beach. It was, however, nothing like he expected. He can’t ski, sled, or skate on sand. He has no idea how to have fun there. “Are you lost, says Crab?” Being willing to learn―even while playing― helps Penguin make a friendship that will last. Yoon’s simple text and bright illustrations make this a great read aloud for young readers no matter where they live.

For audio/video versions of these booktalks, please visit JLG’s Shelf Life Blog.

Junior Library Guild is a collection development service that helps school and public libraries acquire the best new children’s and young adult books. Season after season, year after year, Junior Library Guild book selections go on to win awards, collect starred or favorable reviews, and earn industry honors. Visit us at


Deborah B. Ford About Deborah B. Ford

Deborah is the Director of Library Outreach for Junior Library Guild. She is an award-winning teacher librarian with almost 30 years of experience as a classroom teacher and librarian in K–12 schools.