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Making a Friend    by Alison McGhee & Marc Rosenthal Amazon.com order for
Making a Friend
by Alison McGhee
Order:  USA  Can
Atheneum, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

The young boy featured in this picture book greets the arrival of winter with joy. Not only does he love playing in the pristine snow and catching snowflakes on his tongue, but the child especially enjoys making a snowman.

Once the snowman is completed, the boy's creation remains his friend throughout the chilly winter months. But, with the warm days of spring, the snowman obviously disappears. 'Where did he go?' wonders the child.

The answer is a little complex. 'He is in the falling water, and the rain upon the ocean ... He is there in the fog in the hollow, and the frost on the window.'

At this point in the book the author then begins to repeat the refrain 'What you love will always be with you.' Although a young reader may not immediately see it, as an adult I suddenly realized this simple story is not just be about a child's snowman melting. We are looking at a story about loss; the loss of a family member, a beloved friend, or perhaps a long cherished pet.

As winter returns and the child creates a new friend (snowman), the implication here is that time moves on and, with the passage of time, we must move on as well, although we won't forget our loved ones who are no longer with us.

That's pretty heady stuff for a child's book, but it will be up to you to decide how you wish to explain this story. It can just be a simple story about a boy and his snowman or something quite a bit more complicated! It does, however, offer a gentle way of approaching a loss in any person's life but especially a child's.

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