Friends (Mostly)


Henry and Ruby.
Ruby and Henry.
Best friends.
(Most of the time.)
They give the best gifts and know the best games and are the best ...

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Henry and Ruby.
Ruby and Henry.
Best friends.
(Most of the time.)
They give the best gifts and know the best games and are the best at keeping secrets.
(Most of the time.)
But even when Henry and Ruby don't get along, they know one thing: nothing is the same without your best friend.
Henry and Ruby.
Ruby and Henry.
They belong together.
All of the time.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Friendship does not have to be a 24/7 lovefest: that's the important lesson behind this sometimes preachy and visually unremarkable book. With the exception of some singsong odes to each other, most of the text takes the form of alternating monologues by BFFs Henry and Ruby ("Usually we're friends, but sometimes we're unfriends"), with each child alternatively singing joys of collaboration ("In circus, I'm the ringmaster and Ruby's the lion tamer), kvetching ("He told my secret... to a boy!" grouses Ruby after she shares her crush on a classmate with him), and worrying about the constancy of affections ("What if Ruby finds another best friend?"). Unfortunately, Joosse's (Roawr!) text relies a bit too heavily on the "kids say the darnedest things" mentality ("Yesterday, I had gruffly thoughts") and Milian, making his debut, contributes vignettes that show a wide range of emotions and activities, but don't quite escape the safe, frisky feeling of a well-meaning textbook. While the necessary ups and downs of friendship will be recognizable to readers, neither text nor art truly evokes the depth of emotions at play. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Young readers will recognize the ups and downs of friendship as they follow Henry and Ruby. "Usually we're friends, but sometimes we're unfriends. It all depends." Ruby tells us about her birthday gift to Henry and about the other times and things they share; Henry does the same. But sometimes she thinks he's a show-off; sometimes she enjoys being an "only." Each sings the praises of the other as the BEST FRIEND. They each have moments of doubt, of annoyance. But "RubyandHenry [sic] go together for always and ever..." Milian's active watercolors inject a bounciness that reinforces the staccato rhythm and serious fun of the text. Almost cartoon-y in style, the illustration on the jacket/cover demonstrates their youthful energy as they hand stand on the title, reinforced by an equally active dog. The vignettes of action dance across the pages. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—This title provides an excellent springboard for conversations about friendship. Ruby and Henry are best friends—most of the time. Each one knows exactly what the other wants for birthdays. They easily fall into balance and choose complementary roles when playing pirates. They also know how to push each other's buttons, by sharing secrets when they know they shouldn't. Ruby is jealous when Henry swims well and she sinks in the pool. Despite all of this, they know their young lives wouldn't be the same without the other. When they are angry or apart, they miss all the wonderful character traits the other brings to the relationship. Ruby is a leader, always willing to try new things. Henry is the sturdy, reliable one and admires how she makes everything fun. Joosse uses some of the text in a dialogue format, the characters responding as if they were being interviewed, providing this picture book with a pre-chapter-book feel. Sections are loosely separated by a rhyme. Lively watercolor illustrations express the children's moods and provide vibrancy to the theme. Teachers and librarians will enjoy sharing this title with groups, and children can read it independently.—Anne Beier, Hendrick Hudson Free Library, Montrose, NY
Kirkus Reviews

Bestselling picture-book author Joosse teams up with a novice illustrator for this depiction of friendship between a little boy and girl. Less a story than an episodic presentation of the ups and downs of Henry and Ruby's days together, successive pages show them first enjoying each other's company and then squabbling when their differing personalities clash or when they feel insecure in their bond. "Usually we're friends, but sometimes we're unfriends. It all depends," read the opening pages. Throughout the book, Milian captures the children's exuberant play in watercolors embellished with line that at times include background detail and at other times use white space to highlight action in the scenes. The lack of a full story arc might leave some kids unsatisfied—readers meet the characters and can believe in their affection for one another, but the text doesn't really achieve much more than this. Perhaps other children will recognize themselves in Henry and Ruby and feel this is enough. A (mostly) good picture book. (Picture book. 4-8)

The Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books
“The swift, zesty lines and breezy watercolor hues have a retro flair that resembles that of an airier Steven Salerno.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“The swift, zesty lines and breezy watercolor hues have a retro flair that resembles that of an airier Steven Salerno.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"The swift, zesty lines and breezy watercolor hues have a retro flair that resembles that of an airier Steven Salerno."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060882211
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/21/2010
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD490L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Barbara Joosse is the author of many acclaimed books for children, including Mama, Do You Love Me?, illustrated by Barbara Lavallee, and Roawr!, illustrated by Jan Jutte. She lives with her family in a cozy old stone house in Wisconsin.

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