Your Friend, Parker: Ready-to-Read Level 1

Simon Spotlight/S. & S./. (Parker ­Curry). Jan. 2022. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781665902595; pap. $4.99. ISBN 9781665902588.
PreS-Gr 1–Parker Curry is the African American girl who became an internet sensation when a picture of her looking up at a portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama at the National Portrait Gallery went viral. That moment led to the book Parker Looks Up, and other books written with her mother. This latest story finds Parker and her best friend Gia about to be separated when the Currys take a road trip. Parker decides she will write Gia letters and faithfully recounts her visits to the beach in North Carolina, the aquarium in Georgia, and a lantern festival in New Mexico. Back matter includes information about the real-life friendship of African American writers Zora Neale Hurston and Dorothy West; Hurston wrote letters to West during her trips to the South in the 1920s. Jackson’s and Keith’s crisp illustrations showcase bold colors that contrast to create visually striking images: Parker’s rich brown skin against the deep blue water of the aquarium, multicolored sleds against tan sand, and pastel lanterns against a black sky. Short sentences and large type make the narrative accessible for beginning readers. Adults can take the opportunity to talk with children about the lost art of letter writing.
VERDICT A simple, sweet story about friendship that is a good addition for any collection, but especially ones where early reader titles with diverse protagonists might be needed, or where the other “Parker Curry” books are already popular.

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