A Splendid Friend, Indeed Paperback – Aug 1 2009
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From School Library Journal
Starred Review. PreSchool-K–A friendly, talkative goose endears himself to a contemplative polar bear. On each spread, Bear practices a quiet activity, such as reading, writing, and thinking. And each time, Goose interrupts by asking what he is doing and then taking over the activity. When Bear spends his time thinking, Goose declares, "Thinking makes me hungry." He makes a snack and reads a note that he's written to Bear that describes him as "my splendid friend." Bear is touched by the friendship note and responds by giving Goose a big bear hug. The large format makes the book ideal for group sharing and the oversized text is accessible to beginning readers. The cool palette of the pastel illustrations, consisting of shades of blue and white and touches of violet, sets a quiet, friendly tone, and the animals' priceless expressions tell all. The gentle humor will elicit giggles; Goose's silly statements and Bear's patient responses beg to be read aloud. An ideal book for storytimes about friendship and sharing.–Shawn Brommer, South Central Library System, Madison, WI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
PreS-Gr. 2. Children will recognize their relationships with friends or siblings in this creative, pointed picture book. Polar Bear is reading when Goose comes rushing in, pulls the book from the bear's hand, and begins reading himself. The same thing happens after Polar Bear starts writing. Even more frustrating are Goose's persistent questions about what the bear is thinking. But after hearing a note Goose has written about his "splendid friend," Polar Bear realizes that Goose is a splendid friend, too. Bloom gets maximum effect with minimum words, in part because of Goose's energetic dialogue. Equally impressive is the artwork. Using pastels, Bloom presents a rubber-bodied goose and a furry bear (whose every hair is distinguishable), setting their antics against backgrounds of blue that shift from dark to light. Though simply shaped, the animals manage an amazing assortment of positions and expressions as the story plays out. Fun to read aloud, the book will also lead to discussion about friendly (and annoying) behavior. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
A polar bear is reading a book when a white duck travels down his back for a chat. The duck is deeply inquisitive. He'd love to know exactly what the polar bear is up to. The dialogue is something along the lines of, "What are you doing? Are you reading? I like to read. Do you want to hear me read?". The bear grows increasingly frustrated with the encounter and annoyed with this relentlessly cheery pest. After a bit the duck comes back with a snack he has made and a note he has written. The note reads, "I like you. Indeed I do. You are my splendid friend". The polar bear is deeply touched by the note and by the end the two are hugging alongside the words, "You are my splendid friend. My splendid friend, indeed". Then they settle down to tea and cookies.
The story is, on one level, a kind of take on sibling rivalry. Older siblings with overly enthusiastic young `uns tagging along will identify with the polar bear's longing to just be left alone by his number one fan. On another level, however, this is about dealing with someone who likes you almost too much. It's about handling people who let their emotions fly free of any and all inhibitions. At no point does the duck ever catch the polar bear's book-over-the-ears-type hints. Good thing too. When the bear stops to listen to the duck's letter he is strangely touched. What is so very remarkable about the book is for all its cuteness (and it is really very adorable) the book is not treacly or saccharine. This isn't "cute" in the way a Precious Moments figurine is cute. It's cute because it strikes a real emotional cord AND happens to be lovely to look at and read at the same time.
The art is actually a draw in and of itself. The first image we have of the duck is of him walking down a white, furry hill of sorts. It is, of course, the polar bear's back and does nothing to improve his mood right off the bat. All the illustrations in this book have been done in pastels and Bloom wields her colors with a highly skilled hand. The fur of the polar doesn't just look like something you could stick your hand into and feel, it also contains specks of greens and blues and purples. There's a great deal of subtlety to the book's seemingly simple images. Against the blue background the polar bear and duck are carefully outlined in colors that separate them from the deepening sky. Read the book three or four times and you begin to notice tiny details. For example, when the polar bear melts and hugs the duck at the end, the background changes from blue to a subtle reddish-purple. Without becoming cartoonish, the book is consistently interesting to the very very young and those old wise people helping them to read. Tis a visual feast.
In many ways, "A Splendid Friend, Indeed" conjures up that old classic Mirra Ginsburg book, "The Chick and the Duckling". There are also similarities to "Ginger" by Charlotte Voake. But while these two books are sweet enough in their own way, Bloom's story packs a particularly strong emotional punch. If you've an early reader or a child who's ready for the most basic of tales, consider this a must-have purchase for their personal library. A sure-fire knock-out book.
Goose combines the high activity and social graces of Daffy Duck, but with a much sweeter, more innocent quality. The big-webbed bird seems like a member of Free Associators' Anonymous as he leans into Bear-who is rolling his eyes--and asks, all innocent curiosity, "What are you doing now? Thinking? Thinking makes me hungry. Are you hungry? I think I'll go make a snack." Goose not only makes a snack, but also returns with a note he wrote for Bear (who is now hunched over in retreat, covering his eyes with his composition book):
I like you.
Indeed I do.
You are my splendid friend.
Bear returns the sentiment, and gives Goose a big ole' bear hug, and these two disparate personalities come together at last. Bloom's vivid yet soothing pastels reinforce Goose's soft-edged personality, and she conveys the two animals' moods with body language and the slightest shift in their eyes. Bloom deftly places two recognizable toddler temperaments in her two animals, and her very amusing narrative and pleasing pictures make this an extremely enjoyable tale.
Reviewed by: Amanda
A polar bear reads a book when a white Goose walks down his white furry back for a chat. The Goose is very talkative and interested in everything the Bear does - like reading, writing, thinking. The bear seems to be annoyed and bothered by this little silly Goose that is so intrusive of his quiet activities:
"What are you doing now? Thinking?/ Thinking makes me hungry. Are you hungry? I think I'll go make a snack."/
The Goose comes back with a snack and tells the bear that he wrote him a note:
I like you.
Indeed I do.
You are my splendid friend.
After such a sincere note the Bear opens up to the Goose and gives him a true bear hug of friendship and finally speaks up:
"Thank you. I like you, too. Indeed, I do."
This book is simply outstanding for its illustrations as well. The artwork is drawn by hand in calming pastels on the blue background that shifts from dark to light. The Bear's fur stands out the most from each spread of the book - it seems to be done with chalk strokes and is full of shadows, contours and undertones. To further enhance the meaning of the story, the complexity of emotions is shown in the illustrations through the animals' eyes and body language.
"A Splendid Friend, Indeed" is full of gentle humor. Simple words and large text are accessible to beginning readers.
Author of "Power of Plentiful Wisdom". Available on Amazon.
For more reviews on children's books visit my blog "Julia's Library" at: ForwardQuoteDOTcom
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