Yoon finds a clever way to make friendship happen for Dennis. Those who somehow feel like Yoon's singular hero (including but certainly not limited to nonverbal children with autism) will be grateful for this book. But other young readersthose whom the author might describe as ordinary in more ordinary waysmay well find something in Dennis's story to admire as well: his unblinking courage, in a world where social conformity starts in the sandbox, to insist on being his own best friend.
The New York Times Book Review - Leonard S. Marcus
Yoon’s school-age hero, Dennis, is an aspiring mime whose closet is full of striped leotards and top hats like those worn by his idol, Marcel Marceau. Dennis declines to speak; for classroom show-and-tell, he mimes the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly. He isn’t actively bullied, but he is lonely—“It was as if he were standing on the other side of a wall”—until he finds a girl named Joy, who responds to his miming with her own. In keeping with the theme, Yoon (Stormy Night) has made a visually quiet book, working in red, black, and white on brown craft paper. The objects Dennis mimes are traced with red dotted lines, like the imaginary boat he and Joy paddle happily together. While the story affirms the value of finding friends who accept each other as they are, the moralizing tone (“Dennis and Joy didn’t speak a word because friends don’t have to”) steers it into prescriptive, precious territory. Children unfamiliar with the art of mimeing may need some context-setting. Ages 3–6. Agent: Jamie Weiss Chilton, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Jan.)
"Gorgeous and profoundly moving,
Be A Friend was an instant favorite with me and daughter. Salina Yoon has created a picture book that my family will keep going back to time and again." - Nicola Yoon, #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author of EVERYTHING EVERYTHING "Yoon, no stranger to odd-couple friendships . . . has changed tactics, creating a story about two people who just happen to see the world in a complementary way . . . Refreshingly, this story is not about overcoming shy or unusual behavior: no one ever makes Dennis speak, and no one teases him for the way he chooses to express himself. A sweet, visually striking story of friendship and acceptance." - starred review, Booklist "This heartwarming book describes what it takes to be a friend . . . A wonderful book to use to encourage students to be themselves, to acknowledge that people are different, to introduce inferencing, to discuss disabilities, and to understand what it means to be a friend. Highly recommended." - School Library Connection "It’s the art and design that truly shine in this workin fact, the story can easily be interpreted by pre-readers through the pictures alone . . . Warm and nostalgic . . . Delightful artwork buoys this quiet celebration of imagination, uniqueness, and friendship." - School Library Journal "A launchpad for discussions of individuality. Yoon's lively illustrations will encourage young readers to mime along with Dennis. Her use of red dotted lines to depict each pantomime will allow children to fill in the blanks using their imaginations. Adults will enjoy her eye for details, including a poster of Marcel Marceau in Dennis' wardrobe. A delightful story about the celebration of individuality and friendship." - Kirkus Reviews "This comforting story successfully addresses the common fear of storms for a young audience . . . The storm's impact has no lasting power against a family's love." - School Library Journal on STORMY NIGHT "A thoughtful, flawlessly executed exploration of theory of mind and emotional intelligence." - starred review, Publishers Weekly on FOUND
PreS-K—A lonely little mime finds a friend in this charmingly illustrated work by the author of Found (2014) and Penguin and Pinecone (2012, both Bloomsbury). Beginning on the end pages, readers are introduced to the silent pantomime routines of Dennis, "an ordinary boy…who expressed himself in EXTRAORDINARY ways." Donning a black-and-white striped shirt with a pinned-on heart, an enormous black top hat, white gloves, and face paint, Dennis speaks not a single word (even in school), instead miming during show and tell. Later on the playground, while the other kids skip rope, climb trees, or play ball, Dennis pretends. But the miniature mime soon feels lonely and invisible, "as if he were standing on the other side of a wall." When an observant little girl catches his make-believe ball, the two discover that friends need not speak a word in order to communicate and connect. The themes of individuality and acceptance are familiar picture book territory; it's the art and design that truly shine in this work—in fact, the story can easily be interpreted by pre-readers through the pictures alone. In a departure from the black-lined and thickly applied paints she has used in previous books, here Yoon displays a light and graceful line, delicate penciled shadows, a subdued palette, and thoughtful visual touches. Cleverly, Yoon employs dashed red lines to show viewers the "invisible" objects Dennis uses in his performances, such as a rope, a box, and a bicycle. A spread with four vignettes, each contained in a vintage photo-style frame, lend the book a warm and nostalgic feel. VERDICT Delightful artwork buoys this quiet celebration of imagination, uniqueness, and friendship.—Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal
An ordinary boy with an unusual hobby makes a new friend through extraordinary means. In a departure from her playful animal characters, Yoon turns her talent toward friendship between young children. Sporting top hat, black-and-white-striped shirt, and white stage makeup, Dennis does not express himself like most children. While his classmates speak during show and tell, he mimes instead. His communication style isolates Dennis from other children. One lonely day, though, he kicks an imaginary ball into the path of a kindred spirit and discovers the world of friendship. While the book can be taken as an introduction to mime, its message focuses on embracing each person's uniqueness by learning how he or she communicates. For children who are just noticing how their friends are different from them, Dennis' experience is a launchpad for discussions of individuality. Yoon's lively illustrations will encourage young readers to mime along with Dennis. Her use of red dotted lines to depict each pantomime will allow children to fill in the blanks using their imaginations. Adults will enjoy her eye for details, including a poster of Marcel Marceau in Dennis' wardrobe. A delightful story about the celebration of individuality and friendship. (Picture book. 3-8)