Can We Be Friends?: Unexpected Animal Friendships from Around the World

HarperCollins/Harper. Sept. 2020. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062941589.
PreS-Gr 3–Author-illustrator Sirotich’s picture book is told in rhyming couplets and features five pairs of animals that enjoy spending time together. A short poem introduces an animal friendship and is followed by a brief explanation of how they became playmates. There are well-known pairs: Owen, a hippo calf, and his tortoise companion Mzee, as well as Koko the gorilla and her kittens. This title can serve as a guessing game for very young children; they can gather clues from the illustrations and the short prose descriptions to formulate their conclusion. For example, “My shell is my house. I’m a hundred or more! I like the calm, quiet hush of the forest floor” is the description of Mzee the tortoise. The illustrations, rendered in ink and digital color, depict appealing cartoon images of the smiling animals. The final narrative page features a tan-skinned girl with curly pigtails. A brief glossary defines words that could be new to young readers, such as forage, runt, and sanctuary. A source list and a “Read More About It!” section provide the opportunity for further research on the topic.
VERDICT This informational title and its pleasant format will engage youngsters.

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