Book Review: You Can Be a Friend

Authors: Tony and Lauren Dungy
Illustrator: Ron Mazellan
Interest Level: Ages 4-9

From the Book Jacket: When the new neighbor Hannah moves in, Jade can't believe her luck that there's finally a girl her age to play with in the neighborhood. When Jade meets the new family, though, she is taken aback by the fact that Hannah is in a wheelchair. With the gentle encouragement of her parents, Jade slowly gets to know Hannah, and the two become great friends. But when Jade's planned birthday party at the water park is on the horizon, Jade realizes while Hannah can do a lot of things, there are some things she can't.

Will Jade go on with her party plans, or will she revise them to accommodate her new friend? Jade's struggle and ultimately her solution prove that being a good friend takes a bit of thought, but is well worth it in the end.

Why It's On My Bookshelf: Forever. That's how long I've been trying to find a book like this. Of course, it's gotten an incredible response from the kids. It has a wonderful message about being a good friend and doing the right thing (even when you might not want to). The character Jade is a giving, caring, and selfless kid. She really sets the bar when it comes to thinking about a friend's feelings. I also like that she's not perfect. She has fears about being friends with Hannah who is in a wheelchair. Jade quickly comes to realize it's not the wheelchair that matters but who Hannah is as person that counts. The friendship quickly blossoms as she discovers what a neat friend she has found. But she faces a dilemma when she has to decide whether or not to invite Hannah to her birthday party...which is at a water park. Hannah will not be allowed to participate in the activities. This is when the students sort of 'OH NO! What will she decide?' You will love the ending. This is definitely making my 2011 favorites list.  

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