What a nice thing to celebrate! But even best friends disagree, or argue, and that can lead to both feeling pretty rotten. Here’s a book that shows how two best friends work through their troubles:
In two little houses,
on two little hills,
lived two best friends.
Every morning, Rita and Ralph would
open their doors,
close their doors,
…down the hill, and up the hill, and down the hill, and up the hill.
The cover of this brilliant book paints a clear picture of what the story will be about. Even without the title, the reader can see that two children are NOT happy with each other. Rita has an ice pack on her head, her hands in fists, a frown on her face, and a furrowed brow. Ralph is missing the ice pack & fists, but his expression looks equally unhappy. Both children’s heads are facing the reader, but their bodies (and Rita’s dog and Ralph’s cat) are turned away from each other, legs mid-step. We’re in for a story about a rotten day for both of these kids. Turn to the first illustrated page, and you’ll see where the story begins. This illustration stands in stark contrast to the cover: Rita and Ralph and their pets stand next to each other, both smiling—best friends! Next is the title page: two little houses, on two little hills, with an apple tree in the valley between them—the stage is set. And then Carmen Agra Deedy’s text begins…Rita and Ralph are best friends, until one day when they play a new game, and someone ends up mad and sad, and the other someone ends up sad and sorry. And then both are sad and mad and sorry. But, as best friends often do, they work it out, and do so in a charming, child-relatable way. The last two spreads bookend the first two, but with changes (you’ll have to get the book yourself to see the sweet ending).
At first glance you might think this book is overly repetitive (the refrain “down the hill, and up the hill…” are repeated, in some form, on seven spreads), but if you do, I urge you to take another look. This book makes a great read-aloud. Kids love repetition and love hand games. The author’s note in the back, reveals that her inspiration for the story came from a classic hand game. She provides instructions for the game. Now can you imagine the read aloud potential? At first glance you might also think illustrations are repeated (where the refrain occurs), but look closer (and children will—they notice every little detail). Pete Oswald changes these spreads, ever so slightly, leading to a big surprise at the end. This book the whole package—games and arguments, repetition and hand-play; darling illustrations of friends and dogs and cats, houses and apple trees; and a charming story of best friends who have a rotten day and then become best friends again. I cannot say enough about this beautiful, perfect picture book. Run up and down as many hills as you must in order to read this book!
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Heather is a busy wife and mom of five rambunctious children and one lovable pup They all provide lots of distractions, but oodles of inspiration. Sometimes the pictures and ideas in her head turn into her own children's stories, but she always makes time to read other people's books. Sometimes she reviews them here.