Have you ever been totally puzzled by the peregrinations, bumps and grinds that children experience in their friendships? It was always endlessly fascinating for me to watch the way children bicker and argue with those children they declare to be their best friends. Both with my own children and those I taught, it was evident that there were constant readjustments being made in the relationships that children have with each other.
With that I would like to welcome a relatively new author who is able to capture that paradox. Rebecca Bender has just two picture books in print, and is a relatively new voice in Canadian literature, but what a voice it is. She has captured this unusual nature of friendship between children in both of the picture books available.
In Giraffe and Bird, Rebecca introduces us to two characters that are seemingly enemies. They cannot stand each other and are continually finding fault with each other. When Bird makes a face, Giraffe sticks out his tongue; when Bird tweets in his ear, Giraffe invades Birds personal space. Bird can't put up with Giraffes bad breath; Giraffe cant abide it when Bird eats too much fiber and then well, you know. If you ask them, Giraffe and Bird will tell you: they cant stand each other. But once they go their own way, they find that, in fact, they need each other, and maybe, even like each other (though they will not admit it). This book resonated so well with children that it won the 2012 Blue Spruce award voted on by thousands of children across Ontario.
This title has been followed up by a hilarious sequel, Don't Laugh at Giraffe. In this book, Rebecca examines the delicate nature of embarrassment and friendship. Giraffe and Bird are both thirsty and so they go to the watering hole. Bird leaps in and drinks to his content, while Giraffe has a dilemma. The water level is down and he is so tall, how will he reach the water to drink? As Giraffe tries many creative (but ultimately unsuccessful) solutions, Bird leads the other animals in teasing Giraffe and making fun of his efforts. As the final effort lands Giraffe in the water in the most undignified way, all of the other animals burst into laughter, none so loud as Bird. Giraffe slinks away, still thirsty and embarrassed. How Bird handles this situation is a wonderful blueprint for friendship and problem solving.
Your children will go through many situations with their friends that they will have to grapple with and find solutions for. Having books on hand that show this as a normal process in friendships will support them in these journeys, and open the conversations with thinking about how to solve their own problems in a creative and positive way.