A story that vividly examines the occasionally-turbulent friendships of young girls. My Best Friend, Sometimes is an empathic and honest portrait of the delight in these relationships, but also the confusion, jealousy and vulnerability that can result.
"Stephanie and I like each other. And we don't like each other. Both."
It all begins on the day Stephanie proposes, "If you give me a cookie, I'll be your best friend." From then on, the two girls are inseparable, but not always at peace. They love to giggle, whisper, observe their classmates, and share their most outlandish, secret dreams. But sometimes they are at odds. Some days one doesn't feel like sharing. Taking turns isn't always easy. If they can't agree on a game to play, who decides? One day it seems like Stephanie is mad for no reason at all. The ups and downs of friendship can be steep, and often unpredictable. My Best Friend, Sometimes navigates the path of two girls moving towards, away from, and back to each other again.
Naomi Danis drew on her own childhood memories in this her sixth book for young readers, following her New York Times-praised I Hate Everyone—also illustrated by Cinta Arribas—and While Grandpa Naps. She tries in her stories to notice and give voice to emotions that are universal but not always spoken, to help children feel seen, and to allow them to appreciate their own relationships in both their sheltering companionship and their complications. She hopes her books demonstrate love, even when they don't always use that word. She lives in Forest Hills, New York, and feels lucky to be writing in what she considers to be a new golden age of picture books.
"An emotionally honest take on the complexities of (childhood) friendship. The first-person narrator (who has light-brown skin and voluminous wavy, brown hair) remains unnamed throughout the text but immediately names best friend Stephanie, a white girl, and the circumstances of their meeting. “ ‘If you give me a cookie,’ she said to me, ‘I’ll be your best friend,’ ” recounts the narrator. Accompanying art shows the children from behind; they are seated at a cafeteria table and separated by the gutter. Subsequent pages use layout to place them close together, sometimes in small, sequential illustrations depicting their varied activities and the sometimes-fraught dynamic that emerges from that initial, manipulative encounter. And then they are separated on facing pages again when the narrator confesses, “Stephanie and I like each other. And we don’t like each other. Both.” Words and pictures then examine the misunderstandings, unkindnesses, and tensions that can sometimes punctuate friendships, the exemplary use of layout and expressive illustration techniques continuing to support the poignantly real voice of the text. A reconciliation at the book’s end provides satisfaction without papering over the reality that this isn’t the last time these kids will need to mend fences.