What does it mean to be a friend? What does it mean to have one?
Mary Lyn Ray celebrates different kinds of companionship in The Friendship Book, tenderly illustrated by Stephanie Graegin.
A StoryWalk is a socially distanced way to celebrate this delightful book outdoors! Follow the numbered frames around the Norwich Square - just outside the bookstore - and enjoy the story step by step, page by page! The StoryWalk will be on display for three weeks beginning on Indie Bookstore Day, August 29th.
Since we cannot host in-person author events during the pandemic, Mary Lyn Ray has written a note about friendship and the book for us to share.
Mary Lyn Ray on The Friendship Book
The Friendship Book--a celebration of the mystery of what makes friends and what blooms from having a friend (and being one)--grew in part from The Thank You Book before it, as a way of saying thank you for what friends confer on our lives. But it began a long time back with my very first friends, Sharon Brown and Kathy Davis and (as importantly) a neighbor’s small dog named Snowball, with whom I liked to share an ice cream cone when I was two.
I didn’t know, when I was writing this book, what would be changing the habits of friendship. During these months when we can’t be with friends, we miss them. But they’re still there for us, and we’re still there for them. We are reminded of what friends mean and learn new ways to be friends. We may notice, too, more than we used to, where there’s someone who might be a friend, or might want a friend, if we just look around. For we never know when a friend might happen.
One of the reasons--and there are many!--that I love writing picture books is the challenge of speaking of something that matters in the smallest way it can be said. But a spare book can look overly simple. I often hear a parent say to a young reader, “That doesn’t have enough words for you. You need something harder.” I like to think, however, that picture books aren’t about hard or easy. I want to think they invite a different kind of reading and filling in around the edges.
I love, too, the coming-together of a story told in words and a story told in pictures--a story in two voices--even if, in my head, I might see pictures different from what an illustrator sees. I wish I could get into my hand the story I see in my head. Except a book would, then, lose what comes of the doubled voices. I feel very lucky that stories I’ve written have become the books they are because of what illustrators have brought to them--making a book not my book or their book but our book, which then becomes the reader’s book.
Some of the books I write are the first read or given to a child, and that is such honor. But I hope they aren’t only first books. Although every young reader eventually graduates to chapter books and what waits beyond, I want to think that none of us ever grow too old for picture books. And maybe we especially don’t outgrow what The Friendship Book is about.
Mary Lyn Ray
In the spirit of Mary Lyn Ray's book, the Norwich Public Library has created a special packet of handmade postcards and stickers. Just add an address and a line or two about why your friend is so special.
Open to all ages, limit one package per family. Imagine how excited your friend will be to receive a handwritten message in the mail from you!
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a pick-up time during curbside hours at the library. (Details at norwichlibrary.org.)
The StoryWalk® Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT and developed in collaboration with the Kellogg-Hubbard Library.StoryWalk® is a registered service mark.
The StoryWalks in Norwich are sponsored by the Norwich Public Library and the Norwich Bookstore with generous funding from the Norwich Women’s Club.
With charming art and poetry, this honest primer on friendship, and companion to The Thank You Book, captures the many ways friendships are formed and what it means to be a friend.
Perfect for fans of Margaret Wise Brown and Pat Zietlow Miller’s Be Kind, The Thank You Book explores the many ways of being thankful that can fill a child's day.