Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 4 to 8
- Grade: p to k
- Reading age: 3 to 5
Hanna is fed up with her best friend, Lizzy, who is always trying to be better than her. When Lizzy tells Hanna she can throw her ball farther and succeeds, it’s the last straw. Hanna is tired of feeling second best, but what she doesn’t realize is that sometimes she makes Lizzy feel that way too. Maybe there’s a way they can still be best friends after all.
A funny and relatable story about best friends, competition and learning to see things from another’s point of view.
About the authors
Besides her two previous books of poetry (No Other Lodgings, Fiddlehead, 1978 and Rentee Bay, Quarry, 1983), Frances Itani has published a children's book and co-authored a book of short stories. More recently, Frances Itani, a Member of the Order of Canada, had a spectacular international debut with her first novel, Deafening, which received a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book (Canada and Caribbean Region) and was shortlisted for the 2005 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award; it was a #1 bestseller in Canada. Her second novel, Remembering The Bones, was shortlisted for a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. Itani’s short story collection, Poached Egg On Toast, won the 2005 Ottawa Book Award and the 2005 CAA Jubilee Award for Short Stories. Itani lives in Ottawa.
GENEVIÈVE DESPRÉS illustre des albums jeunesse. Elle a gagné le prix Applied Arts Illustration Award à quatre reprises. Ses illustrations sont tendres et cocasses. Geneviève habite à Saint-Lambert sur la Rive-Sud de Montréal.
GENEVIÈVE DESPRÉS completed a degree in Industrial Design at the Université de Montréal in 1992, but, around 1997, she decided to pursue her first passion, drawing. She turned to illustration, completing a number of contracts in the fields of educational publishing, advertising, editorial, and children's literature. She lives in Saint Lambert, Quebec.
Excerpt: Best Friend Trouble Read-Along (by (author) Frances Itani; illustrated by Geneviève Després; read by Priscilla Holbrook)
When Lizzy threw her ball, it flew up and up, over the fence at the end of Hanna’s yard.
“Ha!” Lizzy said. “I bet you can’t throw yours that far.”
“Oh yes I can,” said Hanna. She took a deep breath and threw as hard as she could.
"Delightful watercolor and color pencil illustrations show Hanna as she gets advice from her brother, father, mother, and pet hamster...The book makes a perfect read-aloud for a kindergarten classroom. The story can lead to a talk about how to treat friends."
Southwestern Ohio Young Adult Materials Review Group
"Captures the ebb and flow of close friendships, and highlights the burgeoning empathy that readers this age are beginning to balance with their own sense of self."
National Reading Campaign blog
"It's fun to watch Hanna get out her frustrations: she goes down to the basement and bangs nails with her older brother, clangs a pair of finger symbals with her dad, and draws an explosive picture while sharing her mother's desk. And who can resist Hanna's super cute pet hamster Octavia?...Despres's rich watercolour and pencil crayon illustrations are strong and cinematic. Her colours are warm—fiery oranges, crimson reds, and creamy yellows. The combination of good writing and illustration make Best Friend Trouble a good choice for summer reading, ideal for those long hot afternoons when nobody seems able to get along."
Montreal Review of Books
"Kids will relate to all the feelings so aptly described by Frances Itani...The pencil and watercolor illustrations are perfectly paired with [Itani's] appealing text. The choice of warm colors establishes mood and enhances the telling. Lively and satisfying, this book is sure to find a lot of fans and will be most useful in opening further conversation with little ones."
Sal's Fiction Addiction blog
"Després’ watercolour and pencil illustrations wonderfully complement Itani’s text...The muted colours and rounded shapes add a gentle touch to the book, helping to downplay the conflict...Given that readers will relate to Hanna and Lizzy’s situation and because of the quality of the writing and artwork, we recommend Best Friend Trouble as a book that will appeal to young readers. Parents and teachers will also enjoy reading this book aloud to children. The book conveys the important message of trying to see things from another’s point of view and talking through our differences of opinion."
"A warm, pithy navigation of the ups and downs of friendship, this straightforward selection points out the necessity of catharsis and the satisfaction of compromise."
"Hanna discovers her friend, Lizzy, can do a lot of things such as swing higher, sing louder, and turn six years old sooner. After spending too much time apart, Hanna and Lizzy decide that maybe they are each good at different things, and they can still play together, always being friends. Following Hanna through her thought process and anger with Lizzy is important for the reader to relate to the story. This is a wonderful story to introduce the complexities of human relationships to youngsters."
Library Media Connection
"[Itani] depicts children's frustrations well, and knows how to draw a story to its natural conclusion using good pacing and easy vocabulary. She gets to the truth about friendship with grace and simplicity...The illustrations are wonderful and the text insightful. Parents, teachers and librarians will want to add this delightful book about friendship to their reading lists."
Quill & Quire