Happy was an international hit that showed off Mies van Hout's uncanny ability to convey feelings with her vibrant illustrations. With Friends she goes one step further and shows emotional interactions. Just as she made the fish of Happy uniquely hers, here she uses monsters to show different situations--they cuddle, laugh, play, but they also fight, tease and more--making the images recognizable for little monsters of all ages.
Happy was an international hit that showed off Mies van Hout's uncanny ability to convey feelings with her vibrant illustrations.
With Friends she goes one step further and shows emotional interactions. Just as she made the fish of Happy uniquely hers, here she uses monsters to show different situations--they cuddle, laugh, play, but they also fight, tease and more--making the images recognizable for little monsters of all ages.
Van Hout used wildly expressive fish to illustrate emotions in 2012’s Happy. Twelve pairs of equally exuberant monster friends do the job in this excellent companion book, each representing a verb. As in Happy, Van Hout’s scribbly, childlike creations are set against a pure black backdrop, letting his neon palette shine all the brighter. While different monsters appear on each spread, there is a clear emotional arc. The word “play” opens the book, as a yellow doglike creature in a sweater and a turquoise horned monkey smile giddily at each other. “Bore” on the next page leads to “tease,” which begets “fight,” as two monsters bite and claw furiously at each other. Crying, embarrassment, and reconciliation bring the book to its satisfying conclusion. Van Hout expertly conveys the emotional peaks and valleys of each friendship; the monster’s eyes and expressions speak volumes, whether in the case of the small smile of a monster that mischievously pokes a much larger creature with a scorpion’s tail, or the quiet, regretful glances that two tiny beasties cast at each other, which say all there is to say about “hope.” Ages 2–up. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
Praise for Happy:
""a delightful amuse-bouche of a book"" – Publishers Weekly, starred review
"" Mies van Hout's Happy is a tour de force of underwater awesomeness and emotion, showcasing what an artist can do with a few pastels, black paper and something fundamental to express...On the last page, a gloriously plump whalelike creature surges upward, ending the book with a surprising sense of closure: ""delighted."" No reader could feel otherwise.’ – The New York Times Book Review""The line, color, and texture make each page a pleasure to return to, and each single word is fully expressed in its corresponding picture. Along with the azure-and-sky-blue ovoid fish at the end, readers will pronounce themselves, in yellow, white and green letters, 'delighted.'"" Kirkus
- Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
One word per double page added to the illustrations is all that is needed to tell the tale of two unusual friends. They “play” with, “bore,” and “tease” each other; “fight,” “cry,” “ignore,” and “embarrass” each other; then “hope,” “make up,” “trust,” “laugh,” and “cuddle.” Readers can see some of their own experiences with their friends along the way. Van Hout’s illustrations use roughly applied, brightly colored chalks or pastels to create the friends on solid black pages with no background. The friends, a contrast in sizes, resemble a large rhino and a small mouse. They change appearance and colors from one double page to the next, however, looking completely different and fierce when they fight, wild when they laugh, and sweetly content when they cuddle at the end. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz AGERANGE: Ages 4 to 6.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—A dozen words describe the various feelings and actions that friends sometimes experience. Colorful childlike drawings of two monsters or other funny-looking creatures inhabit each spread. Done in ink and oil pastels, the rough-hewn illustrations on a black background cleverly explore playfulness, boredom, teasing, fighting, making up, cuddling, and so on. Each spread pictorially describes one word. This book has a lot of child appeal, and no doubt youngsters will choose a favorite monster they can relate to. This short book will pair well in storytimes with other picture books about friendship, including Salina Yoon's Penguin and Pinecone (Walker) and Jenni Desmond's Red Cat, Blue Cat (Blue Apple, both 2012).—Roxanne Burg, Orange County Public Library, CA
With only a dozen or so words and spectacular images, van Hout captures the landscape of friendship for toddlers through teens and beyond. The colors are jewel-bright on black pages, and each opening shows a pair of figures, usually a larger one and a small one, and a single word. They are animals or monsters or little gnomelike creatures, but they are all vibrantly alive. "Play" features a yellow four-legged guy in a striped sweater, and clinging to his ear and having a splendid time is a small teal poppet with horns, a tail and a ruffled scarlet dress. "Bore" finds a huge purple creature flat on his back with all four feet and tail in the air; splayed on his tail in a boneless posture of inertia is a small green-clad one. "Tease" finds a little yellow guy in a green dress shamelessly poking the nose of a very bristly beastie, while "fight" has creatures close in size tangled in jagged fury. There is crying and making up, embarrassment with very red cheeks and perfect "trust," as a tiny figure balances on one foot on the blue snout of a creature with a great many teeth. Like the earlier Happy (2012), this conveys emotional heft and arresting images in an appealing, child-size package. (Picture book. 3-8)
Mies van Hout (1962) studied at the Arts Academy in Groningen, where she majored in graphic design. She has been working as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer since 1989 and has illustrated many children's books over the years. Her skillful and distinctive illustrations are cheerful and witty.