I love my friends. They are there for me through thick and thin. We need friends to give us perspective, and we need each other to make up for where we fall short. This is a prevalent theme in many children's books, as young people are beginning to learn about relationships and how to interact with others their age. My favorite friendship books feature characters with real emotions that kids (and anyone really) can relate to. We all need a friend to get us through the hard times, and a friend makes the happy times even happier.
I am really inspired by how friendship connects and enriches lives. In my new book, Little Elliot, Big City, a little polka dotted elephant named Elliot makes his way through the hustle and bustle of the big city. Just when his challenges seem insurmountable, he makes a new friend who changes everything. Life is so much sweeter with a friend to share it with.
Here is a list of what I think are the best children's book friendships:
Frog & Toad
Arnold Lobel's charming odd couple perfectly complements each other: happy-go-lucky Frog balances uptight Toad. Together, they make up for each other's shortcomings during their whimsical adventures. Lobel's sensitive illustrations and simple narrative have captured the hearts of many.
Elephant & Piggie
It's easy to love Mo Willems' Elephant & Piggie series. They are funny, heart-felt, and honest. Willem's spare text and illustrations convey mountains of emotion. I think Elephant and Piggie's success is due to how relatable the characters are.
George & Martha
James Marshall's George and Martha are real friends. The two are able to counterbalance each other's insecurities and imperfections in short, funny vignettes. While one's flaw is found out, the other never shames them, but gently and lovingly offers reassurance.
Duck & Goose
Tad Hill's adorable poultry pair have a fun time discovering their world from a toddler's perspective. Though Duck and Goose are obviously different animals, they are so close that they interact as if they were twins.
Pooh & Piglet
Everyone knows Pooh Bear and Piglet from A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard's classic Winnie-the-Pooh (and of course from Disney's adaptations). Pooh & Piglet are faithful friends who see each other through all sorts of predicaments, like floods, an "expotition" to the North Pole, and encounters with a Woozle.
Flora & the Flamingo
Molly Idle won a Caldecott Honor this year for her wordless book, Flora and the Flamingo. A little ballerina makes fast friends with a flamingo through dance. Interactive flaps and fold-outs add movement and surprise, as readers watch the two froclick through the pages.
Wilbur & Charlotte
E.B. White's timeless middle grade novel, Charlotte's Web, beautifully exhibits the lengths a true friend will go to. Good friends look out for each other and keep each other safe from harm. Charlotte the spider, who is small but wise, becomes the protector of sweet, innocent Wilbur the pig. In the end, Wilbur is able to return the favor.
Flora & Ulysses
Kate DiCamillo's sweetly quirky story about a girl and her squirrel won the 2014 Newbery Medal. Comic-crazed Flora witnesses the transformation of a squirrel into a superhero in a freak vacuum cleaner accident, and dubs him Ulysses. Ulysses' heroic feats include flying, writing poetry, and proving to Flora that it's ok to hope.
Mike Curato is the author of Little Elliot, Big City.