That's What Friends Do by Cathleen Barnhart
Hello, Cathleen Barnhart! Thank you for stopping by Watch. Connect. Read. to celebrate That’s What Friends Do. Please tell us about the eye-catching scene Oriol Vidal illustrated on the cover.
Cathleen Barnhart: Isn’t it gorgeous? I am blown away, every time I look at it. Oriol captures the colors and mood of a late winter afternoon so beautifully. Sammie and David are hanging out in their fort, which is really a big (dry) drainage tunnel beneath an elevated walking path. They call it Fort Maccabee, and it’s a secret place that they don’t even tell their other friends about. They’re just being together and talking to each other because that’s what best friends do.
Scenario: A teacher-librarian spots you at reading conference holding a copy of That's What Friends Do. She asks you what it is about. You’re running late for a meeting, but you have at least 25 seconds to deliver a succinct booktalk. Ready, set, go!
Cathleen Barnhart: It’s one seventh grade girl’s first #MeToo experience, told in alternating points of view by the girl, Sammie, and by her best friend, David, who’s on the other side of that experience. It’s the story of the misunderstandings that lead to that moment and the damage done by it. It’s a story about navigating boundaries, learning to have hard conversations, and what it truly means to be a friend.
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Please finish the following sentence starters:
Did you know Samantha Goldstein and David Fischer both discover passions they never knew they had? Well, they kind of knew, but were afraid to pursue those interests. Maybe that describes all of us: don’t we all want to grow and take risks and explore our hidden talents? But sometimes that feels so…risky!
I hope That’s What Friends Do will spark conversations about admitting when you’ve hurt someone you love, about the power of a genuine apology, and about consent, even in middle school.
Story is what makes us human. It’s how we make meaning of our lives, but also how we get beyond the specificity and limitations of our own experiences. Story is magic, the best kind of magic there is because it’s available to every one of us every day.
Mr. Schu, you should have asked me how I could have written a novel where neither of the main characters has a pet. I ask myself that often, because animals are such a huge part of my life. I had a cat growing up, and she knew all my woes and worries and joys and dreams. When I was in college, a cat adopted me. I named her Sanchez; what she named me I’ll never know. I brought her to New York after college, and then into my marriage (to a mildly cat-allergic man). I now have a dog, Zeke, and a cat, Scout (and the same mildly allergic husband), and I foster kittens for the Humane Society of Westchester. I socialize them so they can be adopted by other families, and loved by other children. For Sammie and David, though, a cuddly cat or loyal, loving dog wasn’t in the cards. They each needed to be alone, without the comfort of a pet. However, in the novel I’m working on now, the MC has a cat named Mrs. Fluffles. **And, yes, Scout is named after the Scout in To Kill A Mockingbird.
Look for That's What Friends Do on January 28, 2020.