51. “My Friend Bear” by Jez Alborough

A friend in need is a friend indeed. Yet, if you know someone, with whom you can laugh until your stomachs hurt, that is your real friend.

Eddie has a teddy bear, Freddy. What a shame Freddy doesn’t speak!  Big Bear has a teddy too, and his doesn’t talk either, until… Eddie tricks Big Bear into thinking that his giant teddy can converse. Once the scam is revealed and the Bear realized his silliness, the boy and the Bear can’t stop laughing. “Do you think that they’re lonely? Not anymore… That’s what having friends is for.”

“My Friend Bear” is a superb story. Once again, Jez Alborough put a complex matter of loneliness and friendship in a seemingly simple picture book format and arrived at a masterpiece that speaks to children and adults alike. Unbelievable! You just have to read it and see the funny (or fuzzy?) pictures. The story is written in rhyme that makes it a read-aloud delight. You basically can stage the whole thing and give your children a little show.

And then just join Eddie, the Bear and their teddies in a long and silly laugh until your bellies ache. Doctors recommend it on a daily basis, and so does the writer, I guess, looking at the number of synonyms of laughter he used in the story.

The  book made me think about my old school friends- every time I would see them, my belly would get proper workout; and about my son’s friends: crazy laughter sessions with Polina, giggling under the table with Finnegan… what a shame thy had to move away…

I wish us all to always have a friend with whom we can be silly.

47.”Some Dogs Do” by Jez Alborough

Sid the dog was feeling happy. So happy it made him fly like a ‘dog-shaped balloon”. So what? Nobody believed him. His friends called him a liar. They challenged him and he failed to provide the proof of his supernatural talent. Sid’s balloon of happiness popped. He felt very unhappy and misunderstood, until… his father shared a secret with Sid… So, “Do dogs fly? Is it true? Some dogs don’t and some dogs do!”

I think I have found my next favorite writer! Jez Alborough’s way with words and pictures is very addictive. I just want to read more and more of his incredible feel-good stories. They also make us think. It is the best combo a book can offer a child.

Albert Einstein said, “There are two ways to live your life… One is as though nothing is a miracle, the other is as though everything is a miracle.” I choose the latter. No worries, I am not trying to deny the rules of physics and chemistry here. It is the 21st century after all. I just don’t believe that there is nothing beyond science, logic and statistics. Perhaps a little baby’s face just twists in a grimace, but I view it as a smile and it melts my heart down. Falling in love? It is just pheromones at work. Surviving cancer? It is nothing more than an achievement of advanced technology. Well, you call it whatever you want to. I believe in miracles, as this approach gives me an inexplicable power to strive for the commonly impossible. At the same time, it reminds me that we are just people and we don’t have answers for everything.