Friends for Real
Friends for Real
Squeezy could not be found. Emma felt sadder than sad. She had other pets but they didn’t listen as well as Squeezy. Not one liked exactly the same things as her. None fit the perfect hug. And they were all too quiet.
With her last sniffle, Emma knew she needed a new pet.
Emma and Squeezy, her stuffed dinosaur, were inseparable. Squeezy made the perfect pet for Emma whose allergies made real pet ownership impossible. Not only was he just the right size and perfectly huggable, he was the ideal companion for sharing secrets and braving the dark. Yes, Emma and Squeezy WERE inseparable, inseparable that is, until that fateful day when her perfect pet went missing. Unable to find him anywhere—even with help from an imaginative boy at the park—Emma sets off on a quest to replace her beloved buddy. Only, it is not so easy a task to complete. Her new stuffed animals, collected on various family trips, share some of Squeezy’s traits and have some amazing qualities unique to them, but none of them successfully replaces what was lost. When she has all but lost hope, Frank, the boy at the park makes the ultimate recommendation – try a best friend instead! Frank may not be exactly like her lost pet Squeezy, but, as a best friend, he is just right.
Friends for Real is the wonderful collaborative effort of real life friends Staunton and Ohi. This explains how effortlessly the text and images complement each other. Emma’s search for a new friend to replace her lost toy is enhanced by her repeated interactions with Frank, the boy with a thousand ideas. Though both children have imagination to spare, they put that creativity to work in different ways. Readers can only picture the many adventures they will share after the last page of the story. Children will easily see themselves in these characters as they bond with their toys and interact with their environments in such natural and authentic ways.
As a cherry on top of the endearing prose, Ohi’s illustrations are pure magic – simple, emotive, colourful, and accessible drawings that help tell the story while always adding in a little something extra. I especially like the uses of purples, blues, and greens in the park scenes since they are fresh and unique, and I appreciate how every background character is given as much care and attention as Emma and Frank.
Friends for Real does a wonderful job in one story of including the different types of relationships children value, and, while Emma ultimately decides to focus her energy into her budding friendship with Frank, her love for her stuffed animals is still treated as sincere and important.
Amber Allen is a librarian in Guelph, Ontario, with a passion for children’s literature and writing.