Billy & Rose: Forever Friends
Billy & Rose: Forever Friends
Don’t worry, Billy. Next time,” coaches Rose, “you will catch it.”
Indeed, Billy thinks. Next time. He throws the ball to Rose. “Catch, Rose! Catch!” he calls.
Rose runs back…and back… and misses the ball.
“There, there,” coaches Billy. “You can do it, Rose”
Yes, thinks Rose, I can.
Billy and Rose throw and miss …throw and miss…throw and miss.
They have a little talk about how to have a catch.
“You throw too high,” advises Rose. “That is the problem my friend.”
“You throw too low,” advises Billy. “Try again my friend.”
Billy and Rose throw and miss… throw and miss… throw and miss.
They have a little talk about quitting.
“Guess what!” huffs Rose. “I quit.”
“Me too,” Billy huffs back. “I quit now.”
And off they go in opposite directions, until they each reach home.
Rose takes off her having- a-catch clothes. Then soaks in a nice warm bath. She soaks for a long time. Afterward she pulls on some clean having-a-catch clothes and lounges on the couch with her library book. Every now and then, she sighs a soft sigh that means Billy would like this book.
Across the yard, Billy does a little swimming in a tubful of bubbles. Afterward, warm and dry, he sits at the window, knitting new winter cap for Rose. Oh Rose, Billy thinks.
Billy and Rose, a sheep and pig respectively, are neighbors and best friends with distinct opinions about the way things should be done. In four brief stories, they manage to have an amicable time despite various disagreements that arise. Rose procrastinates over household chores, and Billy procrastinates over cello practice, but they find a way to get both done. They each want their sleepover to be at their own house, but, after a brief period of pique, they find a compromise. They are frustrated playing catch, blaming the other when they miss the ball. Despite storming off in a huff, they pine for their friend and come back to succeed. And with no customers at their winter ice-cream stand, they do jumping jacks together and become each other’s customers so both can enjoy an ice cream.
The simplicity, minimal drama and brevity of the stories written in unadorned language belie the deep sense of satisfaction readers experience as they read. Billy and Rose, in their own idiosyncratic way, convey everything important about friendship. They embrace their differences, recognize each other’s foibles, give gentle advice and take pleasure in sharing quiet understated adventures rooted in everyday activities. Billy & Rose: Forever Friends is a balance of charming text and beautiful illustrations that captures the essence and whimsy of childhood logic and absorption in the pair’s current project, whether it be hunting for favorite red socks with ruffles, finding a myriad ways to distract oneself from unpopular tasks, or offering that specific generosity and kindness of childhood.
MacDonald Denton’s beautiful watercolor and ink illustrations are in delicate pastels with occasional splashes of bright color. They add further richness to the gentle stories while providing mischievous playful details as the quirky friends make eager plans, argue, work out solutions but mostly just enjoy being together.
Billy & Rose: Forever Friends, an early reader aimed at 4-8 year olds, is a must-have for all collections. I hope the friendship between Billy and Rose lives as long as that enjoyed by those other lovable and equally laid-back friends, Frog and Toad.
Aileen Wortley is a retired Children’s Librarian from Toronto, Ontario.