My Friend Fred by Frances Watts
Illustrated by A. Yi
Published by Allen & Unwin
Date: 6 May 2019
My Friend Fred is an absolutely fantastically engaging book that will have you guessing who Fred’s friend is right up until the end. This great read-aloud book has illustrations that will make your preschooler smile as we follow the story of this spirited dachshund and his more retiring friend.
Fred is a dog, and he likes to do doggy things like eating dog food, sniffing trees, barking very loudly and digging holes. His friend doesn’t particularly like doing these things but would rather climb trees, can run up stairs easily and hates BATHS! Can you guess who Fred’s friend is?
There are little clues on most pages that can help you guess who Fred’s friend is, which took me a second read of the book to discover. This element adds a lot of fun to the story and will engage the children even more with their guesses.
There has been a trend of late for children’s books to be themed around acceptance of your friends and loved for just being who you are, and this is another one of those. I like that this is a little different because it talks about those differences without revealing why they are different until the very end. The author has kept the reader guessing until the very end, unless work it out from the clues before them. The other themes throughout this book are tolerance, animals, humour and pets.
This book is aimed at 3-5 year old children, but is written in small sentences so could easily engage a 2 year old audience; I know I would use it for a toddler storytime session. Regardless of the age of the children, they will love making barking noises along with Fred and watching him get up to mischief, definitely a great read- aloud book. The 3-5 year old audience will love looking for Fred’s friend on each page, and I have no doubt some will guess before the end.
For the curious reader, some discussion points could include how people can be friends even though their different, and what makes a good friend.
The illustrations are fun and I am pleased to see that the illustrator has left some white space on the pages so we can really take in what Fred is doing and where his friend is hiding. The medium looks like water colours which I like because it gives the book a ‘soft’ feel.
Overall, this is a fantastic picture book and I hope we see more adventures from Fred and his friend.
Thank you to Allen & Unwin for the opportunity to read and review this book