Thursday, April 22, 2004

From Me To You

France, Anthony. 2003. FROM ME TO YOU. Cambridge, Mass.: Candlewick Press. ISBN 0763622559 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]

Rat has been having a string of miserable days, and this day is no exception. He mourns the fact that he never sees his friends, until he finds an anonymous letter in his mailbox extolling his virtues as a friend. Intrigued, he gets spruced up (something he hadn’t done recently) and goes out to check in with all his friends to see who may have written the mysterious letter. Along the way he gets to visit with and help out his various friends, forgetting for a moment about his own problems and realizing how long it had been since he’d interacted in this way.

Rat never definitively figures out who sent the letter, though he sees a couple of friends exchanging winks along the way. At the end they visit their friend Bat, who’s down in the dumps the way Rat had been at the beginning, so Rat decides to pass along the letter to brighten Bat’s day in the same way.

Children will enjoy following Rat’s trip to see all of his friends and keeping track of the mystery that pulled him out of his slump. The author’s imaginative turns of phrase, such as the description of Rat’s sullen mood at the beginning as “the bathrobe blues,” will also entertain them.

The impressionistic illustrations complement the story nicely, and whimsical details such as Frog’s teapot house and Mouse’s bed in a shoe will delight children as well.

Children can follow the example of Rat and his friends and write a “secret admirer” letter to a friend or family member. They can write and decorate the letters and mail them, then wait to see if the recipient can figure out the mystery.

Other picture books about friendship
Lobel, Arnold. Frog and Toad are Friends. ISBN 0060239573
Marshall, James. George and Martha: The Complete Stories of Two Best Friends. ISBN 0395851580
Stoddard, Sandol. I Like You. ISBN 0395071763

By Shannon McGregor

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