My Best Friend by Julie Fogliano and Jillian Tamaki

I am THRILLED, EXCITED, and HONORED to welcome back Julie Fogliano and Jillian Tamaki to Watch. Connect. Read. They stopped by to share MY BEST FRIEND's cover and to finish my sentences. I wrote the words in purple, Julie wrote the words in black, and Jillian wrote the words in green. Thank you, Julie and Jillian! I love MY BEST FRIEND! 

Jillian Tamaki’s cover illustration for MY BEST FRIEND perfectly captures those sweet, shy, first moments of a new friendship.

MY BEST FRIEND tells the story of two girls who meet for the first time and instantly become best friends. My original intention with this book was to explore the sheer simple joy of early childhood friendship, inspired by my own childhood best friend. When I was about 3 years old, a little girl moved in across the street. I loved her immediately and we played together every single day. What I didn’t realize at the time was that my new friend, who had just moved from Korea, didn’t speak English. We played, and laughed, and ran, and swam, and I never noticed that we didn’t speak the same language. I didn’t have a clue until we were in our 20s! We both ended up studying at Bank Street at the same time, and we had some of the same classes. One of the professors asked if English was anyone’s second language, and my friend raised her hand. She said she moved here from Korea and didn’t speak English until she started school. I blurted out in the middle of class, “Of course you did! We were best friends! We played together every day!” I was totally shocked. How could I have missed that? But once I had kids of my own, and spent lots of time watching them interact with other kids, I totally understood. Young kids connect with their hearts and imaginations first... the vroom vroom of a truck in a sand box, the exhilaration of rolling down a hill, the simple comfort of holding hands... the language of childhood is love and joy, and that is something we all speak.

Strawberry ice cream… EEEEEEEEW! (But I’ll still be your friend, even if you love it!)

A best friend is someone who will laugh like crazy when you pretend to be a pickle. But a best friend is also someone who will sit with you, quietly, under a great big tree.

Julie Fogliano’s manuscript for MY BEST FRIEND was the first picture book manuscript that really clicked with me. Play is so intense and vivid at that age, and your best friend is your whole world. I wanted to conjure into images that sense of insularity and whimsy that Julie describes and I remember so well. The rituals of girls and young women will be a theme of mine forever, probably.

MY BEST FRIEND’s cover is sweet n’ simple. But there is an echo to the hide-and-seek theme if you look under the case...

Oh, I cannot wait to see the case!!! 

Strawberry ice cream is a distant memory for me because I’m lactose intolerant. TMI? When I think of artificial strawberry flavour, my mind goes to strawberry milk. The cool pink cartons or the bright red syrup with the Nesquik bunny. “Strawberry Milk” is a wonderfully evocative term, don’t you think?

I hope MY BEST FRIEND is fun for kids to look at. That’s always my first aim. I was the type of kid that liked lush pictures you could investigate and that would reward you over and over again. I’m sure that the story will prompt remembrances in parents of early friends too – in fact, whenever I’ve shown the book to someone, stories inevitably follow...

Look for MY BEST FRIEND on April 7, 2020. 


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