Reviewed by Mary
Are You My Friend? Is an iBook written by Annie Fox, illustrated by Eli Noyes and brought to the iBookstore by Electric Eggplant.
This iBook has read to me or read it myself options, and the words are highlighted as it’s read. The pages can be turned manually or automatically. There is a soundtrack featuring lively jazzy music and sound effects, the soundtrack can be turned on or off and its volume can also be controlled independently. It is recommended for ages 4-8.
The central characters of the story are Sheila Alligator and her little brother Raymond. Sheila’s best friend is Ilana Iguana. Sheila and Ilana love to spend time together, and do all sorts of fun things. Raymond is a very shy boy and his best friend is Snowball the teddy bear. Although Raymond loves to play with Snowball, he does sometimes feel left out and lonely when Sheila and Ilana don’t let him join in their games. Ilana also has a younger brother Iggy, but although Sheila is kind to Raymond and sticks up for him, Ilana is sometimes mean to the younger boys.
Raymond realizes that Iggy looks lonely too, and takes the brave step of reaching out to him, and the two become fast friends. When Ilana puts down the two boys Raymond stands up to her, and Sheila is proud of her little brother. Raymond and Iggy realize they don’t need to hang out with the big kids to have fun, they can create their own fun games.
This story has cute, whimsical illustrations, and is very professionally narrated – with the narrator assuming different voices for the various characters. The Author Annie Fox is a well known anti-bullying activist, but gets her points across very well without the children even realizing they are being taught a lesson.
This book explores a lot of important issues – sibling relationships, loneliness, bullying and reaching out from your own comfort zone. At the end of the book there is a section where the various characters discuss feeling left out, lonely, angry, scared and proud, and they invite the children listening to discuss their own feelings. I like the fact that although this book is talking about some serious issues, it is done in a fun and engaging way so my children thought they were just reading a fun book. It’s a great way to start conversations about these topics, and I really liked having the discussion section at the back.
One recommendation I would make for an update is when you are in “read to me mode” there is currently no way to pause between the questions to allow the child to answer, and for the parent and child to discuss how they feel. If each question were put on it’s own page, then there would be a natural pause, and chance for discussion.
Overall, I would recommend this book as a great way to help children navigate the tricky subjects of friendship and sibling relationships, in a fun and engaging manner.
Please note, as this is an iBook rather than an app you need to first install the free iBook app before downloading.
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