Making Friends Is an Art!

Making Friends9781934490303_p0_v1_s260x420Making Friends Is an Art!

Julia Cook, Author

Bridget A. Barnes, Illustrator

Boys Town Press, Fiction, 2012

Suitable for Ages: 5-9

Themes:  Friendship, Interpersonal relations in children, Life Skills

Opening/Synopsis:  “My name is Brown.  I spend a lot of time in a pencil box with a bunch of other colors.  We are all different.  Some of us are sharper than others.  Some of us are long and others are short.”   Brown is the tallest pencil in the box.  This means he is the least used pencil in the box.  And he doesn’t feel like he fits in very well with the others.  “I don’t have much to smile about.  I am Brown, tall geeky and lonely…that’s me!”  Brown envies Red, BlueOrange, Yellow, Green, and Purple who color and play together.  Blue gives hugs.  Orange likes to have fun.  Green is honest. White keeps the peace.  Pink listens.  And everyone loves Red.  When Brown talks to Blue and Green, he learns that if wants good friends, he has to be a good friend.  So he asks all the other pencils why they don’t like him and learns a lot of surprising things about himself.  It is Black who points out that “when all the colors are mixed together they make Brown.”  He has all the colors inside him.  Will he be able to use all the other colors to like himself, recognize his own strengths and be a better friend?

Why I like this book:  Julia Cook has written a humorous fun and colorful book that all kids will identify with.   What better way to teach kids about differences than through art.  There are tall kids, short kids, popular kids,  shy kids, happy kids and sad kids in every classroom.  Differences add to the dynamics of the classroom.  This book really focuses on helping children building interpersonal relationships with other children.   Bridget Barnes’ illustrations are bright, lively and expressive.   This title is the first in a new series of Julia Cook’s books focusing on relationship-building  skills for children.  It is perfect for the classroom.

Resources:  There is a backpage at the back of the book with constructive tips for parents, teachers and counselors to work with kids in building the life skills they require to be a good friend.  In the classroom, ask each child to pick the color of a pencil he/she feels they could identify with most and why.   This will make for an interesting classroom discussion.  Visit Julia Cook’s website,  to view the many books she has written.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book.  To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

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About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

36 thoughts on “Making Friends Is an Art!

  1. What a brilliant book, Pat. Love the colour/art idea and from a coloured pencils point of view, too. Julie Cook is certainly very creative. Makes you think “why didn’t I think of that?” Like your activity with the kids too. That would make for some very interesting discussions. Thanks for sharing, Pat.


    • Diane, always enjoy that you are among the first to review my posts. They are alway so lovely. You know I’m a fan of Julia Cook. Unfortunately, few of her books are in my library. But, they always hit childhood issues.


    • It is a very creative approach. It grabbed my attention because I was working with Peter Reynolds last summer, and we had to give a very detailed discription of a person. I decided to pick a red crayon — never realizing this book had been written — and completely caught the class off-guard. So, I was eager to see what she did with this story. It’s a wonderful story for kids. But, I think older kids really get it.


  2. What a delightful take on relating to differences!!! I did a lesson one time using 2 pencils–both in good shape, but one very short….never thought of using crayons. I must find this and use it with my class. Thanks, Patricia.


    • Laura, she used colored pencils. You and I had similar thoughts today in our selections. Glad you liked my share. Julia Cooks are great classroom books, many come with special activity books.


  3. Love this idea! Especially the part ”when all the colors are mixed together they make Brown.” Lovely way to show that we are more alike than different. Thanks Pat.


    • Stacy, I have found her books hard to find at the library, so I purchase them. Some I give to my great granddaughter, other’s I donate to the library. I don’t know if it’s because of the publisher. They really are great classroom books and I a lot of teachers use them in the classroom. You should glance at her website and titles. Enzo would love them.


  4. Thanks for making my Friday mornings so bright! This one looks like a real winner. It reminds me of Kathryn Otoshi’s Zero and One, but without the bullying aspect. It is important to note that sometimes kids can bully themselves, with internal voices constantly wondering whether they are as worthy as the others around them. I’ve shared your review on our Books That Transform the World page. and on our Facebook page at


    • Craig, you have a special wisdom. Love your thoughts and comments. I think internal bullying can even more damaging. Hadn’t thought about it from that perspective. Thank you so much for sharing my review. You should check out her website as I think you’d like some of the titles — unique child issues. I’ve revewed a lot of her books.


  5. What a creative concept! I’ll have to check this out. At first, when I saw the title alone, I thought, no, it’s not, in a philosophical and hungry-for-lunch sort of way. But after reading your review, I can’t wait to have my initial reaction ‘drawn’ and quartered!


    • Julie, I hoped the artists would check this out! It really is fun and creative book. The irony for me, was that last summer I studied with Peter Reynolds. One of the many assignments he gave us, was to give a very detailed discription of someone. So, I chose a red crayon and had everyone fooled until I hit them with my last line. I hadn’t seen this book, so I was drawn to it initially because of the exercise I did with Peter and the similarity to my description. But, I am a fan of all Julia Cook’s books because they help kids laugh at their behavior. They also learn something. Thanks for stopping.


  6. This is a GREAT book, Pat..thank you for sharing it and for such a wonderful review. To write a book about a box of colored pencils that helps teach about diversity and friendship…that is unique.


  7. Learning to make friends is so important when you are a little one. I did not learn it, as I moved home and schools too many times. It has always been a drawback. I love the idea of this. (p.s. I have some great friends now!)


    • I always enjoy your comments Niamh! Moving so much must have been hard. I thought teaching friendship and diversity through art was very creative. (p.s. I know you have a lot of great friends now.)


  8. I’m late to commenting on PPBF this time, but what a wonderful book! Delightfully creative way to talk about differences and the fact that everyone is important and has a place. Kids would love this! (So would I!)


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