My Story Friend
Kalli Dakos, Author
Dream Chen, Illustrator
Magination Press, Fiction, May 2021
Suitable for Ages: 4-8
Themes: Boy, Compassion, Listening, Self-acceptance
Opening: “There is the person who tells the story. This is the story teller. / And there is the person who listens to the story. This is the story friend.”
When a child treks across the land in search of someone to tell his sad story to, he meets a gruff mountain man who can’t stand unhappy stories and a too busy to be bothered farmer. Finally he meets an old woman, who tells stories herself and is willing to listen. She becomes his story friend. The act of telling the story leads the child to look at the other side and make what was dark lighter and full of hope and positivity.
The true potency of needing to express one’s unhappiness and the power of having someone else listen and help is a strong message for young readers. Like a favorite teacher or mentor, they may not be around forever, just for a short but meaningful time.
What I like about this story:
My Story Friend is beautifully written in free verse by poet Kalli Dakos. Her gentle and compelling storytelling will capture the hearts of readers of all ages. Kids will cheer for the boy when he finds the old woman who will let him unload his burden. When the old woman patiently listens, the boy gains some of his own insights about himself. Dream Chen’s textured illustrations are colorful and emotive and perfectly suit the boy’s journey.
Everyone has a story to tell, whether it is sad, joyful, or humorous. Everyone needs to have someone to listen. Dakos’s story encourages children to listen with empathy and compassion when their friends and siblings need to talk. And it also encourages readers to seek out a trusting friend or tteacher if they want to share something that is troubling them.
Favorite quote: “We talked all afternoon, and I learned that when we tell our stories over and over again to someone who listens with a big heart, then our stories become softer like butter melting in the sun, and if we are really lucky, the story tells us what to do.”
Resources: This is a perfect classroom book. Encourage children to write about their own lives. Sharing is up to them. But, pairing kids with a buddy might work well. It is also an excellent book for parents to use if they think their child is being bullied or is troubled about something. The book will guide discussions.
Kalli Dakos is a children’s poet and educator. She visits schools across the United States and Canada to encourage children and teacher to write about their own lives. She has written many collections of school poems that include six ILA?CBC Children’s Choice selections, such as If You’re Not Here, Please Raise Your Hand, and They Only See the Outside. She lives in Ottawa Canada, and has an office in Ogedensburg, NY. Visit her Dakos at her website.
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.
*Review copy provided by Magination Press in exchange for a review.