Written by Emily Jenkins, Illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
Candlewick Press, 2016
Here is Tiger. Here is Badger. They are best friends.
Did You Know? Tigers have legs that are so powerful that they can remain standing even after they’ve died. Badgers build elaborate tunnels called setts for family groups.
Tiger and Badger declare themselves to be best friends, but then there’s a scrap over Tiger sitting in Badger’s chair. Badger gets Bad Monkey from a drawer to distract Tiger so that she can get her chair back. They go to get ice pops, but there’s only one left and when Badger eats it, Tiger gets upset. Bad Monkey gets stuck up in a tree and they work together to get him down, but then argue over whether or not he is a monkey monster. They declare that they are NOT best friends anymore and then Tiger makes a funny face and Badger laughs at it. The two friends hug each other and really are best friends.
Author Emily Jenkins plays with the wildly unpredictable nature of friendship in the world of very young children in this book that is charming in spite of (or perhaps because of) the on again/off again status of these two characters. Several years ago, I read through the diaries I had kept when I was young and was shocked to discover that I fought dramatically with my best friends on a regular basis. Yet I have no memory of ever arguing with friends, which just goes to show how little these things actually mattered in the big picture. This story is in the same spirit and we see these two pulse in and out of friendship in a very realistic way that will likely feel familiar to your little one (and probably to you, as well).
Marie-Louise Gay’s illustrations are done in watercolor, acrylic ink, acrylic paint and pencil with backgrounds that are almost frenetic at times, reflecting what’s going on between the characters. We get to see them happily working together to solve problems and angrily turning their backs on each other in the span of just a few pages, showing how quickly the tide can turn. I think this book makes an excellent springboard for discussions about friendship, sharing and negotiating and it’s a nice reminder to parents that kids tend to work these things out pretty quickly on their own.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that little ones learn to manage relationships in very strange and erratic ways.