Eric Carle’s latest picture book, Friends, speaks to those who know what it feels like to miss someone they love. That, most likely, is all of us.
Perhaps you are familiar with Carle’s work from Brown Bear, Brown Bear or The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
In Friends, a little boy’s friend suddenly moves away. He misses her deeply and decides he must find her. He takes a deep breath, counts to 10 and, with that, a make-believe journey begins. This change from reality to imaginary is marked by a transformation in the illustrations, which immediately become more abstract. Carle’s signature tissue paper & acrylic collage artwork allow us to experience the journey across a river, up a steep mountain, through a broad meadow (“The grass was dewy, damp and cool.”), above clouds and into forests until at last the little boy finds his friend.
“I have found you!” he shouted.
“I knew you would come,” she said.
Maybe your family’s cousins were together for the holidays and “played and ran and danced and told each other secrets.” But now they’re gone. Perhaps your family has moved to a new town, or a child’s friend has moved away. Friends is one way of reassuring children (and all of us) that although someone we love is far away, our friendship remains as close as ever.