Title: Elijah Makes New Friends
Author and Illustrator: Beth Arnold
Year published: 2012
Publisher: Independent – Get Happy Tips LLC
Number of pages: 30
Recommended age: 3+
Reviewed by: Renee and Dominic (Mother and Son)
Purchase: Amazon (US) * Amazon (Canada) * Book Depository
1. What is the story about? This book is about kids who don’t want to play with other kids because they look different and another kid, Elijah, is trying to include more people to play.
2. What do you think of the cover and/or the pictures in the book? I liked all the pictures in the book because they are nice and bright.
3. What is your favorite part of the story? My favorite part of the story is how Elijah was being nice and trying to include new friends in their games and at lunch.
4. What is your least favorite part of the story? My least favorite part of the story is when the boy is mean and says that Sonia looks different and her clothes are different and that he didn’t want to be friends with her. That was not nice.
5. What is the lesson learned in this book? I learned that just because someone is different it doesn’t mean they are not nice. You should try to include everybody in games.
6. Overall, what did you think about this book? I liked this book – it had a good story.
7. Who do you think would like this book? Boys and girls in schools would like this book.
Son Rating: ★★★★☆
What it’s About: Elijah Makes New Friends is a story about the acceptance of differences, forging new friendships, and standing up for what is right. Elijah, the title character, is a young boy who meets three other children, all of whom are slightly different and who have few friends. In the first part, Elijah befriends Sammy, a slightly pudgy, bespectacled boy by inviting him to play baseball with him and his friends. In the second part, Elijah invites a lonely girl who dresses differently from everyone else to sit with him at lunch time. In the third part, Elijah asks a boy in a wheelchair to come join his friends in a game.
In all three stories, Elijah and his friends learn that while each of these three children may look different, once they get to know them, they really like them.
My Thoughts: I initially thought I would not be reviewing this book, but as I read it I thought, “This is really good!” This book provides concrete examples of how children at school exclude other children who appear to be different then describes how it is so simple to make the choice to include them. Going even one step further, the author highlights that by doing so, Elijah and his friends learn that those children that they thought they didn’t want to be friends with were actually very nice, or funny, or smart (i.e., good friendship material).
To reinforce this point, the same message is repeated at the end of each of the three mini-stories (the name of each child is substituted in the story – Tommy, Sonia, and Sammy):
Elijah was happy Tommy was his new friend. Tommy wasn’t so different after all.
I just love this simple bottom line message and the fact that it is repeated at the end of each story. Even the youngest of children can grasp this concept.
There was also an appropriate diversity of how “difference” was represented and these are so typical of what children would encounter in real life. Sammy is a slightly overweight boy who wears glasses. Sonia is a girl who appears to be from a non-Western culture and who wears clothing that looks different than her school colleagues’ clothes. Tommy is little boy in a wheelchair.
In addition to the overt differences that Elijah and the other kids observe in these three children, the author does an excellent job of describing the stereotypes that children frequently have about others based on their appearance. So, for example, Sammy the overweight kid with the glasses can’t possibly be good at baseball. The kids won’t have anything in common with Sonia, the girl from another culture. Tommy, the boy in the wheelchair, can’t be included in games because he will be slow (both physically and mentally). What Elijah and his friends learn is that all of these stereotypes were incorrect: Sammy is a good pitcher, Sonia is really funny, and Tommy is really smart.
While the illustrations on the cover and in the book are very bright and kid-friendly, I thought they were only ok. The illustrations do not vary dramatically from page to page. Each of the three mini-stories has the same background and layout with the characters shown in different positions. While there are benefits to the consistency within each story, I would like to see more dynamic pictures in the book to match the FABULOUS content.
My Bottom Line: Elijah Makes New Friends is a well-written picture book with a very strong message about bullying and friendship. Beth Arnold does a great job of providing examples of bullying, stereotypes, and how someone can be a good friend when they see a child being excluded at school. Bravo! Well done!
Who Would Like This Book? I think that children who are just beginning preschool, kindergarten, or early elementary and who are just learning about social relationships would benefit from having this book read to them. There are many discussion points from the story that a librarian, teacher, or parent could raise. Ages 3+.
Mom Rating: ★★★★½
* This book was provided to us by the author free-of-charge in exchange for our honest review.*
About the Author
Beth Arnold is the author and illustrator of Elijah Makes New Friends and Elijah the Superhero. She was raised in Minnesota and moved to Florida after pursuing her graduate degree at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
She worked as a writer in the natural food and wellness industry, but always dreamed of writing children’s books. She resides in Fort Lauderdale with her super cute husband, Jason, and three cats.
In her spare time, Arnold volunteers at a retirement home in her community and with an organization dedicated to helping stray animals. Her passion for kids, kindness and making the world a better place inspired her to create the website, GetHappyTips.com.
For more on Beth Arnold and Elijah Makes New Friends, please visit http://gethappytips.com/elijah-books/
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