Written and Illustrated by Sara Gillingham
Random House, 2015
To grow a friend, first plant a seed in good soil.
Once you’ve planted the seed, you need to give your friend water, sunshine and lots of room to bloom. Spend time talking to them and listening to them. Be patient, because it takes time. There will be times when your friend may bother you, but if you work together, you can get through those times. If your friend is in the weeds, help them out and if they’re droopy, give them a boost with a little kindness. Stand by them through all kinds of weather. Properly tended, your friendship garden will grow and sprout new friends along the way.
This is the debut picture book from author/illustrator Sara Gillingham and it’s bright and breezy, with a really likeable and easy to grasp analogy at its core comparing friends to plants. She covers just about all the important attributes of friendship in this book, including the fact that all relationships have ups and downs. I particularly love the notion that you can continue adding to your group of friends without taking anything away from your other friends. The illustrations are colorful and fun, with lots of shapes and textures that make them vibrant but never cross over into being too busy. Her two main characters have a bit of a vintage art vibe (they remind me a little of the old Campbell’s Soup kids) but the artistic style is very contemporary. I myself am absolutely horrendous at keeping plants alive. Fortunately, I have a better track record with friends. This is a great book with messages that are relevant for every stage of life.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that relationships need to be well cared-for or they, like plants, may wither and die.