4 out of 4 stars
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There is something extra endearing about friendships between unlikely companions. The internet memes of a cat embracing a cockatoo or a lamb nuzzling a tiger are touching. Gabby, a young golden retriever, and her caterpillar companion become fast friends as soon as they meet. Their story unfolds in Chris Elle Dove’s new children’s book, Gabby Makes a Friend.
Gabby has a big back yard to play in. She just can’t get enough of looking for and finding things to play with. After collecting every fun stick, sock, and ball the back yard could produce, Gabby discovered something unusual. That something was a caterpillar that would come to be her dear friend, Katie. The two friends played every day, and their friendship grew. Once after a day of rain, Katie disappeared for many days. Gabby missed her terribly, until the day she reappeared having become a butterfly. Gabby needed some help understanding the transformation, but she adjusted, and the unlikely companionship was soon better than ever.
Gabby Makes a Friend is a beautiful little book. The story is short and simple, yet it contains several potential teaching points and life lessons. Gabby sees that her friend likes to eat leaves, lots of leaves, all the time. Leaves aren’t Gabby’s favorite food, but she learns that friends can be very different from one another, like different things, and still be besties. When Katie returned from her long absence, Gabby was so excited to see her but was confused. Katie looked completely different as her butterfly self. There are plenty of opportunities here to discuss life cycles and the diversity of the earth’s creatures.
The author has made the vocabulary accessible to pre-school-aged children. The illustrations alone would be enough to keep kids engaged; they are beautifully done with a fun, soft quality. The illustrator knows how to bring the characters to life with their eyes and expressions.
The formatting choices for the book are clearly smart and intentional. The font, reminiscent of handwriting, is a great choice for kids. The author has colored some of the text on each page to match the colors of the illustrations. This is a subtle touch, but it is a clever tool that helps tie together the text and the visuals. The color tones and intensity are crisp and bright but also easy on the eyes. The book appears to be professionally edited; I found no errors.
For its beautiful presentation, quality illustrations, and educational potential, I gladly award Gabby Makes a Friend 4 out of 4 stars. I don't find anything lacking in this impressive effort. I think children up to five years will love looking at the pictures and hearing the story again and again.
Gabby Makes a Friend
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