From Archie to Zack

Abrams. Dec. 2020. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781419743672.
Gr 2-4–In one of the most heartfelt books of the season, Kirsch clearly captures the shy trepidation of revealing one’s love to one’s crush in a colorful, animated story of two young boys, one white, one Black, who treasure their friendship. An elementary age boy, Archie, tries to express his feelings toward his best friend, Zack, in handwritten letters addressed from “A” to “Z,” but hides them away because he fears they do not sound just right. When his classmates find the letters, they kindly give them to Zack to read, signaling a quiet encouragement for the two boys to share their mutual feelings with each other. The book shapes a narrative that holds certain specificity regarding young, queer love; parents of a child who feels isolated or pressured by feelings of love would appreciate this book for the model it presents in the strength of the boys’ friendship and the ease of openness encouraged by their community. The watercolor and colored pencil illustrations are delightful, with constant action and sharp, inked outlines detailing the outdoor and indoor fun the two boys share as seasons go by. The constancy of Archie and Zack’s togetherness is easily recognizable through many brightly colored scenes depicting their utter mutual happiness.
VERDICT A pure and perfect capture of first love, joyful and painful in the worries and doubt; the love on the page is so vivid it raises goosebumps of veracity and provides parents with a model to share with any child in the throes of a lasting crush.

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