My nephew thinks I bought this book for him. While he’s somewhat correct — it really is a fun book to read to a child, so borrow one (a child, that is) if you have to — apparently I am still working on my “sharing” skills, because this one lives at my house, not his.
It’s about a young pig named Poindexter who is shy around his relatives and other kids in the neighborhood, preferring to read to the stuffed animals in his room instead of joining the kids outside. This reminds me so much of my nephew, who gathers his stuffed animals around him during bedtime stories, saying, “Come here, friends!” (Although he also loves running around outside, but I digress.) Poindexter is perfectly happy with this arrangement, but how is a well-adjusted, well-read young pig to make friends with other animals that are not stuffed? He finds solace in the local library, where he sits and reads but also helps the librarian push the book cart and reshelve books. I was a very happy aunt indeed when I pointed to the picture and asked where Poindexter was going, and my nephew immediately responded, “Library!”
Then one day a turtle named Shelby walks into the library, peeking from beneath his shell. He is looking for books on how to make friends, and Poindexter shows him where they are shelved. Together they read the aptly titled How to Make a Friend, following the steps and forging a new friendship right then and there. What I especially liked was that Poindexter also helps a mole find a book about reading in dark tunnels and recommends further reading for his new turtle friend (How to Play with Stuffed Animals, a natural follow-up). Poindexter has “future librarian” (or bookseller) written all over him.
This book is a sweet testament to friendship, reading in public, and shared experiences without any overt preaching. Poindexter’s reading habit is not passive; rather, he reads to others, helps them find books, and learns how to take care of a library. Thus his “book smarts” become an asset in dealing with the real world. Illustrated by author Mike Twohy, who was a cartoonist for the New Yorker magazine for over 30 years, the drawings lend an endearing and winsome quality to the book. The text also carries a subtle witticism that will be enjoyed by adults and children alike. For instance, this exchange:
‘I’m not very good at reading big words yet,’ said the turtle.
‘Oh,’ said Poindexter. ‘This book is called How to Make a Friend. If you want me to read it to you, I will — but you should bring your ears up more.’
Not only is it a line that is sure to make you smile, but it also serves to advance the plot, as it were, by pulling the turtle gradually out of his shell (both literally and figuratively).
All in all, a wonderfully crafted story that is sure to enchant and amuse young children and their adult bedtime readers alike. Highly recommended.