February 07, 2015

No-Matter-What Friend

by Kari-Lynn Winters
Illustrated by Pierre Pratt
Tradewind Books
32 pp.
Ages 3-6

How Kari-Lynn Winters is able to express the magnitude of a lifetime of friendship in a mere 24 lines, some of only one or two words, is beyond me.  But she does so with her choice of understated vocabulary and its affective quality.

When a boy interrupts his playing with his peers to stop and spend time with his old dog, he enjoys the fond memories of being with his no-matter-what friend.  The turquoise ball from toddler days continues to be an important part of their play, even once the boy is able to ride a bike, climb trees and ski. And still the dog–maybe a cross between a Great Pyrenees and a Newfoundlander–with the jowly face and thoughtful eyes stays by the boy's side.  But Bud is growing old while the boy is growing up, and the boy's beckoning of Bud to come and play must be amended to respect all that the two mean to each other still.  Sweetly, the boy knows how to be a no-matter-what friend to Bud as well.

I became enamoured with Pierre Pratt's unique art with Gustave (Simard, 2014) in which the heavily-inked illustrations helped impose the sombre tone of that picture book. However, in No-Matter-What FriendPierre Pratt's ink-outlined elements are softened by lines of diffuse edges and fill of warm colours that complement the friendly nature of the boy-dog relationship. Appropriately, the association of Kari-Lynn Winters' endearing text with Pierre Pratt's art depicts fully the wealth and breadth of the two characters' companionable love.

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