New Hampshire author’s new book showcases the many ways you can be a friend.
By Laura Jean Whitcomb
Sometimes you immediately know: this person is going to be my friend.
Sometimes it takes a bit longer, but the journey is just as nice. New Hampshire author Mary Lyn Ray describes the many ways you can make — and be — a friend in her new book, The Friendship Book.
The idea for the book began as a birthday present for Ray’s best friend in first grade, who — after 67 years — is still a best friend. “But before I got to the second page, I saw that the book was, even more, about the recurring mystery of all friendship and what blooms from having a friend (and being one),” says Ray.
The pictures, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin, are a delight. Who wouldn’t want to be friends with a fuzzy panda bear wearing a striped sweater or a cute bird with a hat and bow tie? “The illustrations enlarged the words in wonderful ways to double the celebration of old friends and new friends and not-yet-met friends,” says Ray.
The coronavirus pandemic with all its self-isolation and social distancing protocols has made many of us feel alone. The Friendship Book is a great way to remind kids that you never know when a friend might happen.
“During these months when we can’t be with friends, we miss them. But they’re still there for us, and we’re still there for them. We are reminded how much friends matter and learn new ways to be friends,” says Ray. “We may notice, too, more than we used to, where there’s someone who might be a friend, or might want a friend, if we just look around.”
Ray has published 25 books to date, with many more on the way. Many of her picture books incorporate nature themes, such as Pumpkins, Mud, Red Rubber Boot Day, Christmas Farm, Stars and Go to Sleep Little Farm. Nature found its way into The Friendship Book as well.
“There are certain places I like to come to by myself and when I’m there, I feel as if I’m with a friend. A mountain I look to is an old, old friend. So is a maple tree I like to sit under,” says Ray. “Even when I was growing up, I knew that people friends and fur friends make us lucky by the difference they make in our lives. I also knew that friends in nature can be just as important — and I’m grateful for them.”
The Friendship Book is available at local bookstores.