Review Blog

May 10 2019

My friend Fred by Frances Watts

cover image

Illus. by A.Yi. Allen and Unwin, 2019. ISBN: 9781760290948.
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Themes: Friendship, Humour, Difference. The lovely dachshund, Fred stares out at the reader, his big eyes melting every heart as his friend tells the reader about his habits. From the cover to the end of the book, kids will love watching what the dog does, following his eyes to various parts of the page where a whisper of this friend, the narrator, may be seen. Each pages begins, 'My friend Fred', encouraging readers to predict, as they  read out loud the opening phrase or listen with eagerness about what Fred does this time. Sometimes Fred eats disgusting food, sometime he chases balls endlessly, often he gets excited when the doorbell rings, sometimes he digs holes and gets told off, but he doesn't like climbing stairs. Each time his friend tells us something of himself and by the end of the book, more astute readers will have guessed just who the friend is. By this time, kids will have seen that the two animals are great friends, despite them being quite different, eating different things, liking different things, looking different from each other and sometimes not understanding just why their friend does the things he does.
The funny tale offers a great parallel for children to draw with their own friends; that they are different and like different things, they may dress differently and eat different things and like different things, but for all that they are still friends.
A. Yi's illustrations are very clever. I love the disappearing animal and kids will love spotting the tail or the legs going out of some of the illustrations, adding to the humour of the story. They will love the images of the dog, Fred with his large eyes roaming around the pages, and they will laugh at the things both animals love to do, going back to read it all again with the knowledge at the end of just who Fred's friend really is. And the endpapers with the array of antics of both animals will inspire and delight readers, particularly those who have a pet or wish for one, and doesn't that cover everyone!
Fran Knight

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