Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dotty, by Erica Perl - celebrate friendship, real and imaginary (ages 3 - 7)

I clearly remember one of my daughters talking about her imaginary friend, Juan. She was very matter of fact about Juan, and very certain about it. She was about 2 or 3, in her first year of preschool when friendships were just developing.

Do you remember that stage, when children start playing with their friends, not just side by side? But fast forward to kindergarten - how do all these imaginary friends make that transition? How can we make space for our children's imagination as they enter the big world of elementary school? I loved the book, Dotty, for all the ways it explores those issues - in a warm, lovely way.
by Erica Perl
illustrations by Julia Denos
NY: Abrams Books, 2010
available on Amazon and your local library
When Ida goes to a new school, Dotty comes with her. She would never think of leaving her behind. Dotty is Ida's very large, red spotted imaginary friend.
"At morning meeting Ms. Raymond counted noses. Ten, eleven twelve. Ida frowned. She patted Dotty reassuringly. Thirteen, she silently added. "
Ida's classroom is actually quite full of imaginary friends of all sizes and shapes. But soon, other kids start leaving their imaginary friends at home and Ida is teased for bringing Dotty with her. After a fight with another student, Ida learns that even grown-ups sometimes bring their special imaginary friends along, and that her teacher has a secret to share as well.
Ida's teacher, Ms. Raymond, is just the teacher you'd love to have. She's stylish, understanding and caring. The moment when she reveals her own imaginary friend was a wonderful moment. I loved learning at The Happy Nappy Bookseller's blog that Erica Perl and Julia Denos both wanted to portray a diverse classroom. Ms. Raymond, an African American teacher, is a great part of that.

Best of all, this book celebrates children's imagination and their friendships in all flavors. Ida is a wonderful character, one you'll enjoy sharing with your children. It reminds me of one of my favorite friendship books: The Apple Doll, by Elisa Kleven.

The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion will go to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you). Thank you for your support!

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