The Friend


From the beloved husband-and-wife team of The Gardener, a Caldecott Honor Book

Annabelle Bernadette Clementine Dodd

Was a good little girl, though decidedly odd.

Belle lived every day as if she were grown —

She thought she could do everything all on her own.

Lucky for Belle, she has a friend at home, a caregiver named Beatrice Smith — Bea — ...

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From the beloved husband-and-wife team of The Gardener, a Caldecott Honor Book

Annabelle Bernadette Clementine Dodd

Was a good little girl, though decidedly odd.

Belle lived every day as if she were grown —

She thought she could do everything all on her own.

Lucky for Belle, she has a friend at home, a caregiver named Beatrice Smith — Bea — who keeps a close eye on her so she doesn't get into too much mischief. Through the week Belle helps Bea as she does chores or shops or bakes, and at the end of most days they head to the beach — Belle and Bea, hand in hand, by the sea. But one afternoon Belle sneaks outside to play all alone, and something happens that changes her life forever.

A lyrical rhymed text and pictures that pack emotion combine to present powerful portraits of a girl and her loving guardian.

With Mom too busy and Dad away much of the time, Belle finds companionship with a household employee who after each day's work takes Belle "hand in hand" to the beach.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In perhaps their most personal work to date, this fifth collaboration between the husband-and-wife team behind The Journey explores the subtle, intense bond shared by a girl and her caregiver, inspired by a similar relationship in the author's childhood. The book begins cinematically, with endpapers that feature a girl nearly swallowed by the luxurious appointments of her sepia-toned bedroom. The artist sets her off in a kind of spotlight, her red hair and blue nightgown the only splash of color; in the following panel cartoons, she could be an adult-putting on her glasses and emerging from the blankets-until she picks up a teddy bear and makes her way down the stairway, barely able to reach the banister. Thus Small (So You Want to Be President) presents Annabelle Bernadette Clementine Dodd as a girl wise beyond her years. Belle's mother kisses her on the cheek, her father consults his watch, and Bea, a quietly graceful woman with her hair neatly tucked into a bun, packs the parents' luggage in the trunk. As the parents speed away, Belle leans against Bea with their arms entwined, the girl's height at perhaps Bea's waist. Stewart wastes not a word as her text sets a rhythm to the duo's days, the first day of the week spent hanging laundry on the line, the second ironing, etc. Each afternoon the two break for a stroll on the beach, and, depicted in Small's wordless spreads, the scenes underscore a bond so strong that the child and caregiver need not speak. Bea invites Belle into her world, leading Belle up the back stairs into her cozy room, and taking the girl to her church, filled with the African-American congregation's voices raised in song ("Belle sang best"). When tragedy nearly strikes one day, it is as though Bea feels in her bones that something is wrong, and when she comes to Belle's rescue, the portraits that follow convey their ineffable connection. On the final page, Small shows the now grown Belle in surroundings much more akin to Bea's special room in Belle's house than to her parents' finery-and readers feel the full impact of Bea's life on Belle's own. Ages 5-up. (Aug.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
"Annabelle Bernadette Clementine Dodd...thought she could do everything on her own." Left alone by her busy mother and father, she has as company Bea, who day after day successively does the washing, ironing, cleaning, shopping, baking, with Belle following along. Sunday is the day for church. But each day they take time for enjoying activities together on the beach. Then one day Belle marches off alone to be "the BOSS OF ME," and is saved from disaster by the stalwart Bea. This colorful story of love and caring between a black housekeeper and a child is told in verse by an affectionate adult in recollection, probably Stewart herself as suggested by the photograph included. Small begins the visual narrative on the front end-papers, showing Belle in bed in her luxurious bedroom. On the following pages she rises and goes downstairs; on the title page she kisses her parents goodbye as Bea loads the car. Small's deft watercolors create sensitive portraits of the characters and settings, supporting the actions in the text while recreating the environment with the shore's contrasting tranquility. The text at times seems redundant, as the periodic double pages with no text fill in so much of the story. 2004, Farrar Straus Giroux, Ages 4 to 8.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal

Pre-Gr 3
Lovingly read by author Sarah Stewart (Farrar, 2004), this is a sentimental ode to an African-American housekeeper who manages a sprawling mansion while simultaneously caring for a young, precocious, wealthy white girl whose parents are too busy to spend much time with her. The relationship between the two is recalled over the course of a standard week, with young Belle assisting (in her way) housekeeper Bea with the daily chores. After completing each day's hard work, they wind down with visits to the beach. Instrumental music plays a larger role here than in most read-aloud adaptations of picture books. Illustrator David Small's wordless full-page spreads of the beach scenes are enhanced by gently lilting music and beach noises, giving children ample time to pore over the lovely watercolor-and-crayon cartoon illustrations. Appropriate sound effects enhance the rhyming text. In a scene where the two are cleaning a room together, gentle sounds of floors being scrubbed and windows being wiped to the point of squeaking create the background sounds. Overall a pleasant and touching production by this award-winning, creative husband-and-wife duo.
—Jennifer VerbruggeCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

School Library Journal
Gr 1-3-Annabelle Bernadette Clementine Dodd, Belle for short, is the child of wealthy parents who have no time for her. Even before the story begins, readers see her climbing down the stairs to kiss them good-bye, her father glancing at his watch all the while. But Belle has Beatrice Smith, a kindly housekeeper with whom she spends her days sharing Bea's chores (creating more havoc than help). While they have specific chores each day of the week, they always make time for delightful excursions to the beach. Then one day, Belle decides that she can go alone, with nearly disastrous results. The rhyming text describes the loving relationship between Bea and Belle, and the woman's infinite patience with her young charge. Small's cartoon watercolor-and-crayon illustrations, most of them spreads, depict a mansion on a hill overlooking the sea, Belle's grand bedroom, ornate parlors, and a time when wringer washing machines, clotheslines, and electric fans were the last word in luxury. The pictures of Bea hugging the little girl to her breast after nearly losing her, the woman's grief at what might have happened, and Belle's efforts to cheer her up are especially poignant. However, the last image of the two shows them still oceans apart, with Bea offering hot chocolate and apologies and Belle still visibly distraught, head in her hands. It's bound to leave children unsatisfied.-Marianne Saccardi, Norwalk Community College, CT Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781595199140
  • Publisher: Live Oak Media (NY)
  • Publication date: 9/28/2006
  • Series: Picture Book Readalong Series
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

This is Sarah Stewart and Caldecott Medalist David Small's fifth collaboration. They live in Mendon, Michigan.

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