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Walter Had a Best Friend

Illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier



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About The Book

From the bestselling author of The Quiet Book comes an honest and touching new picture book about the ups and downs of friendship.

Walter and Xavier are best friends. They do everything together! But then…quietly…slowly…Xavier becomes best friends with someone else. Walter goes from feeling hurt and left out to feeling confused and angry to feeling just plain lonely. Until one morning he wakes up feeling a tiny bit hopeful. That day, while out for a hike by himself, he meets Ollie. Could this be the beginning of a new friendship?

Sometimes best friends aren’t forever, and that’s okay. Because there might be a new pal waiting just around the corner.

About The Author

Photo courtesy of the author

Deborah Underwood is the author of numerous books for kids, including the Caldecott Honor book Outside In and the New York Times bestsellers The Quiet BookThe Loud Book, and Here Comes the Easter Cat. She lives in Northern California with her feline muse, Bella. Visit her at

About The Illustrator

Photo by Francesco Fantoni

Sergio Ruzzier has written and illustrated many celebrated picture books, including We Give Thanks by Cynthia Rylant and his own Good BoyA Letter for Leo, and the Fox and Chick series, the first book in which received a Geisel Honor. His work has been awarded by American Illustration, The Society of Illustrators, Communication Arts, The Society of Publication Designers, and Parents’ Choice. In 2011, he received the Sendak Fellowship. Sergio lives in Italy, and you can visit him at

Product Details

  • Publisher: Beach Lane Books (October 18, 2022)
  • Length: 40 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781534477001
  • Lexile ® AD460L The Lexile reading levels have been certified by the Lexile developer, MetaMetrics®

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Raves and Reviews

"Soft pastel colors match the meditative tone of the spare yet poignant text. This tender, sensitive story speaks to the pain of losing a friendship, validating sadness but emphasizing that there is a way ahead. Perceptively, Underwood recognizes, too, that not all friendships end with fights or drama and that drifting apart slowly can feel just as raw. A gentle story of friendships lost and gained and life moving on."

– Kirkus Reviews, *STARRED REVIEW*, 07/01/2022

"Underwood’s story sensitively presents a common childhood occurrence, as evident in the title’s past tense: the disintegration of a friendship. The book’s pacing is superb and lets the story breathe.... The way Ruzzier captures the changing emotions on Walter’s face and the space the story gives to his time of “sad quiet” are honest and respectful to the interior lives of children.... Emotionally rewarding and cathartic."

– Horn Book Reviews, 9/1/2022

"The basic pathway of this emotionally significant story by Underwood (Every Little Letter) will be familiar to anyone who has loved, and lost, a dear companion.... Ruzzier (No! Said Custard the Squirrel) creates a warm-hued landscape in which appealing animal characters experiencing recognizable emotions move among delightfully strange natural wonders.... The creators paint a realistic portrait of painful change and a hopeful vision of moving on."

– Publishers Weekly, *STARRED REVIEW*, 8/15/2022

"Ruzzier’s characteristic muted hues and fuzzy, mottled textures emphasize the narrative’s gentle tone, and the animals have a toy-like appeal. Share this with youngsters negotiating the shifting tides of preschool and kindergarten dynamics."

– The Bulletin, 9/1/2022

"Sparely detailed art and minimal text sharpen the poignancy of this take on the theme of 'watching once-close friends drift away.'... The focus is clearly on the shifts in Walter’s emotional landscape, and both Underwood and Ruzzier shed perceptive light on that."

– Booklist, 10/1/2022

"This deceptively simple picture book explores the emotions we feel when friendships end....Underwood’s spare text provides ample space for illustrator Sergio Ruzzier’s surreal, otherworldly landscapes and bright pastel color palette. Ruzzier depicts the impact of Walter’s loss in approachable, moving images.... The book’s gentle pace, engaging artwork and lyrical yet straightforward text make this a comforting, reassuring read for young readers experiencing transitions at school or with friends. Walter Had a Best Friend is a gem."

– BookPage, 11/1/2022

"An excellent book for a simple read-aloud in a primary setting or as an independent choice for a beginning reader. Some friendships do not last forever, it is okay to fly solo, and new friendships come when you least expect them; these are comforting and relatable lessons for any child struggling with loss or change."

– School Library Journal, 9/30/2022

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More books from this author: Deborah Underwood

More books from this illustrator: Sergio Ruzzier