Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend” was in continuous rotation on my turntable and blasted from my coveted JBL speakers from the minute the album Tapestry was released in 1971.
I loved that song. I know I am not alone—it was an anthem at a time in my life when friendship was everything. My friends, Debby, Moye, Carol, Betsy, Amy, and Cathy, were my squad. I was considered the sixth child in Debby’s house, and Carol and I went on a cross-country trip, which included seeing the Steve Miller Band in Monterey, California, and getting a homeless puppy I named Frisco in Golden Gate Park.
We did everything together. I was allowed one sleepover per weekend and Cathy’s and Betsy’s houses were our usual destinations—great snacking and grown-ups who didn’t hover! My friends accepted me for who I was, they believed in me, and they were always ready and eager for any adventure. We covered for each other. Among my friends, I felt validated and special, as opposed to the often critical and judgmental voices of so many of the grown-ups in my life.
While I have lost touch with some of my friends from Newton, Massachusetts, (Facebook notwithstanding), our childhood friendships remain in my heart. I feel so lucky to have a wonderful circle of friends today. And even though we aren’t sleeping over at each other’s houses every Saturday night, we do share ideas and memories and support each other through the rough times and the celebrations.
Sometimes, I think I would love to host a huge friend reunion—bringing together all my friends from all the past decades in one place. I would host it in the Post 440 American Legion Hall in Newton, where I used to have huge parties in college when my parents went on vacation. Everyone chipped in and we had an amazing time. It would probably be weird to mix up people from all aspects of my life, but it’s fun to think about Debby and the crew from Weeks Junior High School meeting up with my friends in Montclair, New Jersey, today. They would probably all get along.
Considering how important friendship is to me—and how our mission at Scholastic Book Clubs is to help all teachers encourage their students to find new friends in books—it’s a special thrill to offer Finding a Friend, written by Traci Swain and illustrated by Kadysha, as our Scholastic Book Clubs Book of the Week.
There’s so much packed into this book: shark facts, math games, undersea adventures, and most important of all, the beautiful feeling of finding a friend.
Author Traci Swain, also a friend, is passionate about sharing her story. I love this part of her Behind the Scenes author interview, about how her mom told her to choose her friends and not let them choose her.
It’s a message I gave to my own children and one I hope Sophie Rae will live by as well.
The character of Deep Blue is actually based on a real-life shark that was first discovered in 2014, when she was filmed off the coast of Guadalupe Island, Mexico. Deep Blue caught Traci’s eye while she was watching a documentary on the Discovery Channel. After learning about this massive shark, who actually seemed friendly and interested in the divers around her, Traci was hooked. After spending 15 years swimming around the idea of writing a children’s book, she had found her main character.
“Animal lovers will enjoy the facts in this whimsical tale about an inseparable duo.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Traci shows young readers that everyone has something that makes them special, and that giving others the chance to show it is the best way to make—and keep—friends!” —Award-Winning Author Andrea Davis Pinkney
This STEM–themed story introduces younger readers to different ocean animals and habitats, while older readers will enjoy the speech-bubble text and scientific names of the ocean friends. And with themes of kindness and empathy, it is an ideal classroom read-aloud to teach students that the best way to find a friend is to be one.
Here are some additional resources to complement this fintastic Book of the Week:
• Take a brain break with the Book Boys as they perform an original song about making new friends
• Get tips from literacy specialist Megan Polk on how to use Finding a Friend in the classroom in Book Talks
• Watch an exclusive video interview with author Traci Swain in Behind the Scenes
• Download a free printable activity to accompany Finding a Friend in Cooked Up from a Book
Our mission is to make it easier for teachers to introduce all students to books they can sink their teeth into! That’s why in addition to the $1 Book of the Week, we’ve created inflation-busting savings, exclusive author events, live read-aloud shows, and fun contests to get kids engaged with reading.
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