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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Unlikely Friendships, a Valentine's Day celebration

What does friendship mean to you, Oggie?
Hug my Mommy!

Periodically, I ask my kids, "What does friendship mean to you?", "How can you be a friend?", "What do  friends do?", "Who is your friend?"

I get different answers each time, factoring in their age/development.

I ask myself the same questions and have found my answers evolving over time.

As Fred Rogers of Mr.Rogers' Neighborhood said, "When people like each other and like to do things together, they're friends." Of course, friends don't have to do things together all the time, and they don't have to like the same things. "Good friends can make each other laugh or smile; and try to make each other feel better."

In the spirit of Valentine's Day, I asked our Saffron Tree family to share their favorite books on friends and friendship and their picks were unique and diverse.

While on the subject, unlikely friendships appeal to me. 'Unlikely' is rather relative and quite subjective. In the most positive and generic sense of the word, when two polar opposite personalities come together and manage to establish a bond that stands the test of time, it is indeed heart-warming and reassuring.

Toot & Puddle books
by Holly Hobbie

Ages 3+

Holly Hobbie has created two endearing pigs in Toot & Puddle.

Puddle is a homebody who enjoys cooking and gardening. Toot loves the outdoors and seeks out new adventures.

Opal, their cousin, is a lovely little pig who makes an appearance on and off in the stories, plus takes center-stage in The One and Only, Charming Opal, The New Friend.

There are many Toot and Puddle books and quite a number of them have managed to amuse and entertain  the kids in residence. (And hopefully illustrate the finer points of friendship.) I still remember the first one that Nana gave us for Ana's first Christmas: I'll be Home for Christmas.

As an adult reading the books, I liked the way their personalities show through Hobbie's elegant characterization. The first few books made me ponder on the sort of relationship Toot and Puddle have, the easy comfort with which they are present in each others' lives, the unspoken commitment they have to each other, the care and respect they show for each other, the support and encouragement they provide for each others' pursuits... my conditioned adult mind could not help wonder if they are a couple... no matter.

The stories are endearing and sweet, some offering kid-centric situations without patronizing. The settings are idyllic yet feel quite real.

The illustrations are charming and humorous. The gorgeous watercolors are priceless. The half a dozen Toot & Puddle (& Opal) books on our bookshelf has given me many hours of joy just gazing at the exquisite and lively illustrations by a master at her craft. And many wonderful read-alouds with the kids.

Other such "unlikely" friendships that the kids have enjoyed at home, shared here earlier:

Pete & Pickles by Berkeley Breathed

Ivy+Bean by Annie Barrows

[image source:]

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