For all of you who have tiny humans of your own, or work in the elementary panel and want to bring Canadian content into your reading routine, these mini reviews are for you!
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In Everyday We- Friendships, author/illustrator Marnie Dallan takes readers to what seems like an ideal world. She celebrates all of the joys of connecting with friends as a child, and from our ongoing pandemic perspective, the closeness, warm colours, and big feelings of the different relationships shine golden bright. Just as in her previous book, Everyday Me, Dallan embodies the child's voice and perspective, although in this book you can tell that the children are older, as if they aged in the time that passed between publications.
There are a few reasons why I think this book is important. Firstly, there is a really good mix of activities represented across the book's sixteen poems. Every child will see something they connect with, whether it is riding a bike and playing on a playground, or painting and baking. Dallan still focuses on outdoor play and the natural world more than anything, with a sprinkling of imaginative play thrown in. These are the scenes you want your children to grow up seeing, rather than depictions of playing video games and watching television. It is as if the book is saying: "Hey! Look how fun this is! Don't you want to try this with your friends, too?" Or: "When you are playing with your friends down by the river and in the park, that is special. Special enough to be in a book! Keep it up!"
In addition to the loud, bright, rambunctious play and quiet collaboration in the poems, there is also a pair of poems in the middle of the book that make a parent reader laugh because of their realism. In "My Sister Doesn't Share", the title speaks for itself. This is a perfect addition to a book about friendship, because sometimes there are conflicts and sometimes there are blips in the relationships with even our best friends. The poem "Corner Cupboard" also shows an important part of friendships. It tells children that it's alright to need some quiet time for themselves, that you can love your friends but still enjoy solitude.
Secondly, while the language is simple and clear, making it easy for a child to understand, there are also big ideas and important values represented. In "Pajamas", Dallan says "We can feel powerful / From the things we wear" which highlights the value of self expression and how clothing can have meaning. This could create a really fun activity with a child discussing what clothes are their favourite and why, or open up a conversation about clothing worn by different cultures. In "Warm Summer Nights", Dallan celebrates inclusion in the line "with kids big and little, / Games are so much better!" Dallan's art work on this page and throughout the book shows children of a variety of ages and with a variety of skin tones all playing together, making the concept of inclusion visually supported as well. In the final poem, "Sharing Friends", Dallan is explicit in her main message of the book: "The more friends you have, / The better you'll become! / My friends help me learn. / My friends learn from me." Once again, this is a great conversation starter with a child to recognize and emphasize the importance of having an open mind and learning and growing through community.
Through the simplicity of the language and diversity in the faces shown in the images, Everyday We- Friendships makes love for each other and love for the unplugged joys of childhood accessible to even very small readers. That's why it should be in classrooms, libraries, and bookshelves across Canada.
For more information about Marnie Dallan, her art, and how to purchase the book, visit www.marniedallan.com.
📚 Ms. CAN Lit