Thursday, February 16, 2023

Zack and Ike Are Exactly Alike

PreS-Gr 2-Young children often think that friends must be exactly alike and agree on everything; it upsets them when a friend does or thinks something different. Zack and Ike find themselves in just that quandary. They are similar in so many ways, from their bikes and backpacks to their giggly grins and kind hearts, that it seems impossible they should have a disagreement. But when they find a puppy and want different names for him, it may cause a falling out. Then along comes Zena Lola-Jo Lee and she is "exactly different." Gouache and colored pencil illustrations show the exhilarating ride past "sea serpent swamp" (a puddle with swim floats in it) and that floppy-eared puppy they discover in their hideout. The spread showing their argument over the puppy's name captures the rising voices (and tempers) as the names appear in larger and bolder letters with each repetition. And a final image reveals the two friends, now part of a foursome with Zena and the puppy, heading home from a satisfying afternoon. Teachers and parents could read this book after misunderstandings between siblings and classmates, or to gently encourage enlarging a circle of friends. VERDICT This is a story perfect for sharing with children who are having difficulty navigating similar social moments or simply struggling with some of the nuances of friendship.

My review originally appeared in School Library Journal, June 2022, p. 59

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