Is there anything better than watching children and puppies playing together? The rest of the world falls away as they focus on each other. They seem to embrace life with pure bliss and complete interest. It's as if they are connected by an invisible thread.
They are the ultimate example of "love at first sight." I Got a New Friend (Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, May 23, 2017) written and illustrated by Karl Newsom Edwards celebrates this mutual affection. As soon as you open the book it reaches out and envelopes you.
I got a new friend.
A little girl is given a puppy, receiving her with a little bit of shyness and apprehension. As you might expect this hesitancy does not last very long. The puppy and girl are soon snuggling.
This leads to running and romping with total abandon outside. They both prefer this sensory sensation. After this activity cleanliness is the last thing on their minds; napping takes precedence.
They discover they have a lot in common. There are malodorous moments, necessary baths, and overzealous eating habits. Being quiet is simply too hard for them; noisy is much more fun.
When they eventually rest they sleep together. Awake they are inseparable, showering each other with displays of devotion. Like all of the best things in life, essential efforts yield a wondrous outcome and a welcome surprise.
Fourteen sentences in total, simple declarative sentences, tell a tale of a friendship which will stand the test of time. Karl Newsom Edwards has with a great deal of genius written in such a manner so there is no dispute as to the truth of these statements but what they are indeed open to is the interpretation as to whom is speaking. They also have openness to them allowing for visual depictions showcasing the developing relationship.
In this sample sentence who is she? There are muddy foot prints and paw prints across the carpet, the ottoman and on the chair. The little girl is covered in a blanket but her pooch pal is nestled across her body as they nap.
She messes up the house and sleeps on the furniture.
When you first see the matching dust jacket and book case, one word comes to mind. That word is adorable. Using a background of white, the child and the puppy hold our gaze. Having them nose to nose is a charming blend of curiosity and caution. A pleasing detail is the dot for the letter i matches the spots on the puppy. To the left, on the back, the background color is the same as the title text. In a small oval over the words
Have fun with your new friend!
the little girl is sharing an ice cream cone with the dog.
Across the white opening endpapers are muddy foot prints on the left walking toward muddy paw prints moving from the right to the left. On the closing endpapers are nine small pictures illustrating
how to care for your new friend.
These like the narrative can be in either character's voice.
On the title page is a basket of puppies with the little girl peering at them from an open door. White space is an important element in the design of the illustrations rendered
with pencil and watercolor and then refined digitally.
For pacing and impact the picture sizes vary from double page, to single page and then to several smaller visuals across two pages. For maximum effect the perspective moves close to the characters. An excellent technique used by Karl is the shadowing (shading) around the characters and other objects. It softens each scene. The facial expressions on both the girl and the puppy will have you wanting to hug this book.
One of my favorite illustrations of many is when the duo is having a bath. They are outside in an orange and yellow polka-dotted kiddy pool on the lawn. A garden hose curves around the left side. Water is overflowing the top and being splashed by the little girl and the puppy seated in the pool. It is loaded with soap suds. Can you hear the squeals and barks of delight?
Will this book make a great read aloud? Yes! Will this book be a bedtime title read repeatedly? Yes! I Got a New Friend written and illustrated by Karl Newsom Edwards is brimming with exuberance. I cannot imagine a professional or personal bookshelf without a copy. I would pair this with Our Very Own Dog.
To learn more about Karl Newsom Edwards and his other work please visit his website by following the link attached to his name. He has a page dedicated to this title which you will enjoy. You can get a sneak peek inside the book at the publisher's website. Karl Newsom Edwards was featured at Watch. Connect. Read., the blog of Scholastic's Ambassador of School Libraries, John Schumacher.