My Friend Fred
Allen & Unwin, 2019
24pp, hbk, RRP $A19.99
Fred the dachshund likes and does many things – he eats dog food for breakfast; chases balls; sniffs trees; wears a coat when it’s cold… But none of these things appeal to his friend. But nevertheless, even though they are different, they are still best friends.
This is an intriguing book about friendship for young readers because, although there are hints about who might be telling the story available to the sharp-eyed, the identity is not revealed till the last page. And when it is, it underlies the message of the book that regardless of differences, close bonds are still possible.
By not revealing the identity explicitly, young readers are encouraged to pay close attention to the delightful illustrations which are full of expression and movement, and interpret the friend’s observations so well. They may well like to compare Fred’s pleasures with those of a dog they know, and once they learn the twist in the tale, retell the story from Fred’s perspective. Older children could discuss whether our friends perceive us as we perceive ourselves, another opportunity to explore the concepts of perception and bias.
Lots of scope for learning in this one.