Cover image for Friends
Publication Information:
Chicago : Albert Whitman & Company, c2016.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) ; color illustrations ; 27 cm.
"A girl from a faraway place begins her first day at school. She doesn't speak the language and she looks different. She just doesn't fit in. But one day, she makes an unexpected friend a squirrel! Then a rabbit joins them. Soon the girl's fuzzy woodland friends are followed by human ones and school becomes more fun!"--


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book EASY IKE 1 1

On Order



2017 CCBC Choices

A girl from a faraway place begins her first day at school. She doesnt speak the language and she looks different. She just doesn't fit in. But one day, she makes an unexpected frienda squirrel! Then a rabbit joins them. Soon the girls fuzzy woodland friends are followed by human ones and school becomes more fun! When a surprising new student joins the class, the girl and her new friends know just how to make him feel at home.

Author Notes

Aiko Ikegami was born in Tokyo. As a child, she loved animals, drawing, and painting. She received a degree in child education and a PhD in pharmacology. After years of working as a neuropharmacologist, she left the field and decided to follow her dream of creating picture books. This is her first American picture book.

Reviews 3

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 2-Making friends is hard to do, especially when you are the new person at school. A little girl, arriving in a plane on the first page, is shown standing shyly next to her new teacher on the next, and from the illustration, readers can deduce that she does not speak the same language as her classmates. "She was different. And alone." The little girl longs for a friend to eat lunch with outside. One day, a squirrel scampers next to her, and she hands it an ear of corn as they sit on the bench, side by side. The next day, the squirrel is back-this time with an inquisitive rabbit, followed by a raccoon. Soon, another child quietly peers from behind the tree, watching the new girl and her animal friends eat lunch. She returns the next day with her classmates, and then, "one day.they all [stay] to play." A spread shows the animals playing ball with the new girl and her classmates. The story ends on a fantastical note, when another new student arrives, this time on a spaceship. The illustration mirrors the beginning of the story, when the little girl was standing in front of her new classmates. This time, the girl is shown sitting front and center, and standing shyly next to the teacher is a soft green, blushing space alien. "He was different. But he stayed too. And they all played." Ikegami's soothing water-washed visuals are soft and infused with pastels. The spare text lets the illustrations tell most of this tale of the importance of being kind and making friends. VERDICT Libraries will want to make room on their shelves for this "new kid" in the collection.-Lisa Kropp, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

A little girl from far away starts her first day at school, but she doesn't fit in. She wants one friend to keep her company at lunchtime. Then one day, her delicious food attracts the attention of a squirrel, to whom she offers an ear of corn. They eat and play together, attracting the attention of a rabbit, who is invited by the squirrel to join them the next day. The rabbit then invites a raccoon, who invites another little girl. Soon, everyone is sharing and playing together. When a new student comes from even further away, he is warmly welcomedand other new arrivals watch them hopefully. Ikegami uses a soft, fuzzy illustration style, relying on color to set the mood. She starts with icy white, warming up as she goes, and by the time the children and animals are eating and playing together, readers are treated to double-page spreads full of rich color. The words are sparse, with the repeated phrase "One day..." highlighting turning points, but the illustrations do most of the work of explaining first the girl's isolation and then the joy of being a part of the group. The protagonist eats with chopsticks and has long, brown hair; her classmates exhibit a variety of skin tones and hair colors and textures. The message of inclusion is often seen in picture books, but sharing food to make friends is a gentle suggestion that may help children starting school or meeting new arrivals with a language barrier. (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

A new girl arrives at school. At lunchtime she is alone until woodland animals approach her and stay to share her food. Intrigued, the other children slowly join the group, and they all end up playing together. The fantasy element started by the animals coming for lunch takes a twist when the next new student appears. This time, an alien becomes part of the class. It is welcomed somewhat more readily, presumably because the girl from the beginning of the story knows what it feels like to come into an unfamiliar place. This fun take on a friendship story hits some expected points everyone has differences, but everyone can be part of the group then takes a comical turn with the alien's food and friends. The illustrations are purposefully vague on ethnicities. There are some variations in skin tone, but all the characters look more like felt puppets or dolls than humans. The soft, fuzzy lines and colors create a cozy, nonthreatening atmosphere, and the humor softens any potential didacticism. The simple cover image of a girl and a squirrel does not fully represent the story's quiet humor and inclusive message.--Whitehurst, Lucinda Copyright 2016 Booklist