Frances Watts (text) and A. Yi (illustrator), My Friend Fred, May 2019, Allen & Unwin, 24 pp., RRP $ 19.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781760290948
Acclaimed, prize-winning author Frances Watts demonstrates with this charming story that a simple idea executed with wit and imagination can bring deep joy and repeated pleasure to book lovers. In the set of scenes for this book, the narrator speaks of her friend Fred who eats dog food for breakfast (how awful), chases balls, sniffs trees, digs holes and can’t really negotiate stairs very well. In fact, we learn, Fred does a lot of funny things, though he is still the narrator’s best friend. The bright full-page water-colour illustrations are simple and expressive, often taking a child’s-eye-level view of the world—something to be appreciated. All in all, a book that children and parents will likely love to re-visit at bedtime. Even when the gleeful surprise at the end is revealed there will be much excitement when reaching it again and again. Recommended for two to five year olds.
Reviewed by Kevin Brophy