Saturday, December 17, 2016

A reflection on friendship in books from 2016

Friends for 34 years, way before the "selfie" was invented!

My favorite part of the New York Times Style Magazine is the back page.  That's where they ask someone famous to draw the answers to everyday questions.  Every once in awhile I have a minute to scan through it to see if anything else draws my attention.  Today, as I was just about to recycle the November magazine, I happened upon an article that touched me so deeply, about the old friends we can't let go of, whether they are gone from our lives or not:

There are many that I think about that have left:

  • After third grade, one of my very best friends, Allison Zeith, moved to Staten Island from our haven in Briarwood, Queens.  We saw each other a few times after that and then never again.  I always wonder what happened to her.  I have vivid memories of hanging out in her apartment, and watching old, black and white King Kong movies together.
  • Thanks to FaceBook, I am "friends" with dozens of my early childhood friends (ie, PS 117,  JHS 217), so many of whom I haven't seen face to face in 30+ years and would love to meet for coffee some day to catch up. If you are reading this, can we make it happen in 2017?  I don't make resolutions, but if I did this could certainly qualify.
  • There are many from Cardozo HS, Bayside, Queens I would love to see, too.  Our 30th HS reunion is this year (oh my!) so if something is organized, maybe I will actually have the opportunity to do this.  A lot has happened since big hair and Reaganomics.
  • What about my orchestra mates at SUNY-Binghamton.  Would I even recognize you 25 years later?
  • I had a couple of housemates in graduate school that would be fun to connect with.  It's a problem because I can't remember how to spell Matt K's last name so there is no way I can look him up.  He owned the house but goodness knows those checkbooks with his name in it are long gone.  Rick Mitchell, with a common enough name, makes him challenging to look up on social media.

But, I do have one true friend who I met at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires in 1982 and who has not left my side since.  Back then Queens to New Jersey felt like an eternity apart.  We counted long distant minutes on our rotary phones and mailed each other long tomes of who we liked but who didn't like us back (mostly me) and what crushes crushed us that week (again me).  Today, in spite of the now 3000 miles separating us, we still remain very close. This post is dedicated to my BFF, Beth.

But because this is a library blog, I'm not just writing about my friends, but tying it all together by giving you a taste of five books published this year that I love, with a strong friendship theme:

Booked by Kwame Alexander

Two friends, Nick and Coby.  They play some serious soccer.  Throw some family issues in there and a girl, and this book touches it all--perfect for anyone from 9-99.

Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart

Screenshot from Overdrive
Two eighth graders you would never imagine to become friends, do, in a backdrop of Dunkin Donuts, plastic pink flamingoes, a special tree and family members you want to hug one day and shake up the next.  A must read for every middle schooler.

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

The Three Rancheros meet at baton twirling lessons.  All have a different reason for wanting to win the "Little Miss Central Florida Tire Contest."  When the friendship becomes solidified, you can't help but feel happy.  People are wondering if boys will like this book.  I can attest that they do as I had several in my book group who, not only liked it, but who were quite engaged in our discussions at our group meetings.

Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan

A giant book cover from our MOST event

From the alternating point of view Joe and Ravi, two fifth graders, this is their story of how they became friends after a week of school lunches. A must read for every upper elementary school class, even as young as third grade.  

Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Three kids, three different stories, coming together in fifth grade while learning about 9/11 during the 2016-17 school year on the fifteenth anniversary and beyond.

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

If you doubt that a book about a robot getting stranded on an island could have such strong themes about friendship, family and the environment, then you need to get a copy of The Wild Robot today. We are all surprised at how much we like the book, but the truth is, we do!

My "Wild Robot" book group with arcs thanks to Little, Brown

We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen

Yes, it's a picture book but that doesn't mean it can't belong here. I can't get enough of it--Two turtles, one hat.  It could end up badly but the bond of friendship keeps it from going that way.  Simple illustrations with a short but meaningful story.

Just a few where old friends were left behind when family came first...

Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin

Thyme moves across the country for her brother's health and struggles with missing her old friends and making new ones in the city.

Ghosts by Raina Telgeimer

Similar to Counting Thyme, in Ghosts, Cat and her family move down the coast of California to protect her sister's health.  Little do they know that the new friends they make could be harmful.

Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eager

Boy is it hard to be away for the summer, discover things about your family and roots that you never knew and then go back home and start middle school with friends you haven't seen all summer. 

Speaking of friends, here's a text from one after she read "Hour of the Bees."
Here's hoping you have a wonderful holiday season filled with lots of time with family and FRIENDS and maybe even a connection or two with ones that may be gone from your life but never forgotten.

1 comment:

  1. Stacey! I don't even know how to respond....Now that I've wiped the tears from my eyes I'll try to express my thoughts, although I've never been as eloquent as you. You inspire me to be better than my best (even now - to write a personal post on here and on FB ��). My life is so much better because of you. We've been through so much together and have so much more to go! I'm so touched by your words and so honored to have your amazing blog dedicated to me. I often think of the hundreds and hundreds of children and families and professionals you help and inspire and am I am continually amazed by you. I've loved you since LOL meant "lots of love" in our handwritten letters that traveled that great distance over the NY/NJ border! Thank you for our lifetime of unconditional friendship. I love you Stacey Beth!!❤❤❤ ~ your "BFF"