I’ve got a new book on the block for fans of subversive picture books of the style of Jon Klassen today, with I Just Ate My Friend by Heidi McKinnon. We received our copy from Allen & Unwin for review and here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
This beautiful, innovate picture book from an enormously talented new creator will make you laugh out loud. The search for a true friend is something everyone can relate to – from the very young to the very old.
I just ate my friend. He was a good friend. But now he is gone. Would you be my friend?
A hilarious story about the search for friendship and belonging… and maybe a little bit about the importance of impulse control… from an amazing new creator.
A monster realises the error of his ways after eating its only friend. Will the quest for a new friend result in success…or dinner? This was a totally fun read that resulted in a few bemused looks as the realisation dawned that the monster did actually just eat its friend and now required a replacement. For friendship, that is. Not for eating. Definitely not.
The book reads like a cross between Please Mr Panda and Ugly Fish as once the friend has been eaten, the protagonist monster goes on a hunt for a new buddy, asking all manner of variously weird, winged, toothy, leggy creatures whether they’ll be its friend. All the creatures asked have perfectly valid reasons for denying the request (except for the cranky looking fanged dragonfly thing that responds simply with a “No”) and it quickly becomes apparent that the monster may well have eaten its only friend.
There is definitely a Klassenesque feel about the story, with the eating of the friend presented bluntly, with no explanation as to why the monster may have felt the need to nosh on its only mate. The monster differs from most of Klassen’s morally bankrupt characters however, in that it seems genuinely remorseful once the consequences of its actions become apparent. Those who enjoy reading these subversive types of picture books can probably guess what happens in the end, but it will be no less of an enjoyable read for guessing correctly.
The illustrations consist of bold, bright colours set against a deep green, blue and black background and we just loved the array of strange creatures that populate the story. The text comes in short bursts so the book is perfect for little ones just learning to read as they will quickly come to remember the words on each page thanks to the repetition in the text.
The best indicator that the mini-fleshlings enjoyed this book is that upon finishing it, they immediately requested that it be read again. I’m not sure whether this had something to do with the disbelief of how the story ended, but they definitely wanted to go back and have a second look at this funny, quirky and just a little bit scary story.
Until next time,