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*Our Friendship Rules* by Peggy Moss and Dee Dee Tardif, illustrated by Alissa Imre Geis
Our Friendship Rules
by Peggy Moss and Dee Dee Tardif, illustrated by Alissa Imre Geis
Ages 8-11 32 pages Tilbury House May 2007 Hardcover    

Why can friendships sometimes come so easily yet become so difficult to maintain? Perhaps we could all use some “rules” to guide us through our friendships.

Alexandra and Jenny are the very best of friends. When a new “cool” girl, Rolinda, comes to school, Alexandra wants to be her friend, too, so she tries to impress her. She wears the same shoes and gets her hair cut just like Rolinda’s. When she’s invited into the new circle of friends, Alexandra not only excludes Jenny but also tells secrets about her. Betrayed by Alexandra, Jenny is rightfully angry and very hurt.

When Alexandra realizes how much she has hurt Jenny, she offers a heartfelt apology, and, after some tears, the girls reconcile with a new set of “friendship rules.” Both characters grow in their understanding of friendship and maturity as they stick together and form a good example for others by including everyone in their games.

A collaborative effort between seasoned author Peggy Moss and high school freshman, Dee Dee Tardif, the story is painfully real in its situations and characters. Although the reconciliation is relatively immediate, it is a sincere reflection of the strength of Jenny and Alexandra’s long-time friendship. Unfortunately, many similar real-life friendship scenarios result in less positive endings, with friendships branching in new directions and others left behind. For this reason, the reconciliation becomes the focal point for the story, teaching the beauty of forgiveness.

Alissa Geis’ colored pencil drawings and collage artwork creates a visually appealing contemporary layout sure to attract the reader with the multicultural characters, vibrant colors, expressive faces, and notebook drawings of the characters. I used the story with a 3rd-grade classroom as an introduction to a social studies unit on friendship. The companion website offers numerous ideas for activities and discussion stories. It is a perfect example of forgiveness and provides a good complement to a lesson on reconciliation.

Pair this with Peggy Moss’ other book, Say Something, for a solid opening to discussing relationships among children. Together the books help children to face the peer pressure and resulting cruelty that becomes more common as children reach middle elementary school.

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  Kristine Wildner/2009 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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