120. “Don’t Need Friends” by Carolyn Crimi


As easy as children get excited about new toys, breaking the ice with new friends does not always come easy. Changing schools or teachers, moving to a new city or country,  as well as saying good-bye to good friends when they have to move away, can be very hard emotionally for a little child. It is good that there are books like the provocatively titled work by Carolyn Crimi, which can be used as a great support tool.

Rat and Possum used to be inseparable, until Possum moved out to another junkyard. Rat turned his sadness into anger and started rejecting any signs of care and friendship from other animals. Finally nobody talked to Rat, no one  invited him to parties and everybody started ignoring the disgruntled rodent, which claimed he didn’t  need any friends. One day, however, Rat met his match, when an equally bitter Dog moved nearby. The two neighbors seemed to attract mutual attention, but bickering and teasing was their only interaction. Until a cruelly cold winter day, when Dog suddenly stopped responding to Rat’s provocations… Actually, Dog’s silence turned out to be the biggest provocation of all, which eventually made Rat share a meal with his grumpy neighbor. More than one meal. “Don’t need many friends,” thought Rat each night as he lay next to Dog. “Just need one.”

Isn’t it a beautiful story about real life dilemmas, so cleverly executed? The junkyard setting and homeless animals bring a very special element to the story. What should be repellent is actually very touching, especially when you add to the mix the expressive illustrations by  Lynn Munsinger. I guess, when things get really bad for us, when we lose a friend, we do feel pretty ratty and all we want to do is to bark at everyone around us. The important thing is not to let this negative phase last too long. There are so many new friends to make everyday. Actually, we don’t even need many. We need one, right?

 

 

 

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