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My Best Friend is a Goldfish
Written by Mark  illustrated by Chris Jevons

Young boy with snorkel gear floating in the ocean with fish illustrated

A boy believes that to have a best friend, they must enjoy the same things, play together and always get along. So when he and his best friend don’t do these things, the boy goes on a search for a new one. His first attempt, Murphy the dog, goes well until he runs off to play with other four‑footed friends in the park. Next is Gus the cat, but that ends when he pounces on a mouse. Hercules the hamster loses his chance at best friend status as he’s preoccupied with stuffing his cheek pouches with food. Fishy Robert gets counted out because all he does is eat and swim. Then the boy stops to think, do his friends have to be just like him? Or are they like cookies and milk, different but perfect for each other?

Mark Lee writes about how a boy comes to the discovery that he and his friends do not have to be the same for them to have fun together. Chris Jevons’s illustrations are colorful and bright and are an excellent accompaniment to the story. As the boy goes through each potential new best friend, the section starts with the naming of the friend, but as they lose their chance, their name is crossed out.

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Square
Written by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Jon Klassen

A large black painted square with two stumpy legs and a set of eyes

Square lives in a secret cave and spends the day pushing square rocks up a hill to a pile. One day Circle sees him pushing a rock. Circle is impressed and assumes that Square is an artist and that his sculpture looks exactly like him. Circle demands a statue of himself, to be ready the next day, and is gone before Square can even respond. And since Square thinks Circle is perfect, Square spends the whole night attempting to make an ideal sculpture of Circle. At the end of the night, all he has is a pile of rubble, and he falls asleep in the rain. The next morning Circle comes and sees a pool of water surrounded by the rubble. After seeing his reflection in the pool, he declares Square a genius and goes away happy. But is Square really a genius?

Mac Barnett tells a simple yet resonant tale about seeing things from different perspectives. Jon Klassen illustrates the story in dark shades that give a very monotone effect to the book, relieved by the color of the water. Circle and Square’s only features are their eyes, which convey all their emotions.

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Quiet Wyatt
Written by Tammi Sauer; illustrated by Arthur Howard

Group of kids on a bus goofing around

Wyatt likes quiet. It’s what makes him a great ninja, a model museum visitor and a magnificent tree in the school play. One day, Wyatt is paired up with Noreen on a school trip—and she is anything but quiet! As Wyatt and Noreen spend the day together, she loudly gets them into difficult situations, and he quietly follows. But when Noreen’s singing triggers an avalanche, Wyatt cannot be quiet anymore. He shouts an alarm and leaps into ninja action to save her. By the end of the day, Wyatt discovers that sometimes he doesn’t have to be quiet and sometimes it’s nice to have a friend.

Tammi Sauer writes about how a quiet boy can fit into a loud world, and not always have to be so quiet. Arthur Howard illustrates this adventurous story using soft watercolors and dark lines. The action scenes are accompanied by bright lines of “movement,” and Wyatt and Noreen’s faces are filled with emotion.

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I Am the Boss of This Chair
Written by Carolyn Crimi; illustrated by Marisa Morea

Large chair with two cats, one on top the other on the bottom

Oswald Minklehoff Honey Bunny III is the boss of many things, most importantly, this chair. But he quickly figures out that it is easy to be the boss of many things when you are the only cat around. When Pom‑Pom the kitten shows up, he starts to take over, and he doesn’t respect Oswald’s space at all. So, when he snatches Bruce the toy mouse, Oswald attempts to teach Pom‑Pom a lesson. A terrific chase ensues, but when human Samantha calls them bad kitties, Oswald must comfort little Pom‑Pom. And soon Oswald discovers that the chair is big enough to share, and in fact, it’s nice to share things (but not everything!).

Carolyn Crimi crafts a wonderfully entertaining lesson in sharing and friendship. Marisa Morea illustrates the tale with expressive drawings of Oswald and Pom‑Pom. Oswald shows his superiority early in the book, then dissatisfaction with Pom‑Pom’s takeover. Pom‑Pom is drawn with an innocent smile throughout until the bad kitty episode. Finally, Oswald and Pom‑Pom seem happy in each other’s company. Bright colors, delicate patterns and descriptive action words are carried throughout the book.

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Mixed: A Colorful Story
Written and illustrated by Arree Chung

Red, yellow and blue dot characters each illustrating a different personality

In the beginning, there were three colors all living together in peace. But one day Red declared themselves the best, which then caused Blue and Yellow to argue that they were better. Things got so bad between the trio that they each built their own towns and stayed far apart. And so it remained for a long time, with each group of colors keeping to themselves… until a Yellow noticed a Blue. They hung out together and were happy. So they mixed and created a new color, Green, who was equal parts Yellow and Blue, and all parts cute. The colors began to see new possibilities and continued to mix until the day that all the barriers between Red, Yellow and Blue were torn down and all colors—old and new—lived together in harmony.

Arree Chung writes of how we allow our differences to pull us apart from people we may have known for a long time. But all it takes is one small group to show the way back together. His color dot people live in a black‑and‑white, linear world. When the story ends with the three colors mixing in many more, the effect of all the different color dots is a sight to see.

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