Award-Winning Books Picture Books Reading Themes Universal Republic of Childhood

When Friendship Does Not Require Words in Salina Yoon’s “Be A Friend”


Myra here.

There has been a great deal of much-deserved book love given to Salina Yoon’s Be A Friend. I knew it would be perfect to feature it this week as we share the power of individuality and friendship and forming communities as part of our reading theme “Universal Republic Of Childhood.”


Be A Friend

Written and Illustrated by: Salina Yoon
Published by: Bloomsbury, 2016. ISBN: 1619639513 (ISBN13: 9781619639515). Book Awards: A Winter 2015-2016 Kids’ Indie Next Pick. Book borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

Sometimes it is easy to make friends. Most times it isn’t. Some kids take more naturally to it than others. Children who express themselves uniquely are oftentimes on the fringes as they run the risk of being misunderstood and made fun of by other kids who have been taught and raised perhaps to do things the “right” way – not the “extraordinary” way. The point is to blend in, to conform, to be like everyone else.


That is part of what being a child means, adjusting to society’s expectations and navigating one’s way around it. Dennis is by no means an ordinary boy who follows the usual conventions. While everyone else speaks, he prefers to mime stuff. And judging by the illustrations, he is quite good at it too:


However, this self-expression does not automatically win him friends. And even mimes who give joy to others become lonely too. More often than not, he feels invisible in a sea of faces:


I feel that this would be a good picturebook to share with kids at the beginning of the school year, as little cliques or groups have not been firmly formed as yet. It also shows that showing greater kindness and reaching out to another does not necessarily need to involve words, you can use jazz hands instead! For teachers who wish to use this in the classroom, here is the link where teaching kits can be downloaded for free. I would also recommend that this book be paired with the following books:

The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig and Patrice Barton


Featured last Monday: The Seeds Of Friendship by Michael Foreman, My Two Blankets by Irena Kobald and Freya Blackwood.


To be featured this Saturday: I’m New Here by Anne Sibley O’Brien.

Enjoy this book trailer too!

3 comments on “When Friendship Does Not Require Words in Salina Yoon’s “Be A Friend”

  1. Terrific selection of books! I think you’re right about sharing them at the beginning of the year.


  2. Thanks so much for including BE A FRIEND in your review, Myra!


  3. This book sounds like an amazing testimony to friendship! 🙂


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