October 03

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On Pizza Hats, Sleepovers, Pregnant Dog Farms, and Being a Best Friend Forever (Probably) by Julie Falatko

Best friends are such a huge part of growing up that they are almost mythical. Kids know that your bestie has your back, your bestie is there in a lonely moment, your bestie will come to your rescue. Kids who can’t point to one BFF might wonder why they aren’t one of the chosen ones, looking jealously on groups of classmates, heads bent together sharing secrets and stories.

It’s my youngest kid who really showed me what a best friend forever can be. Ramona and her best friend Etta love each other with a fierceness I envy, accept each other fully, and dress alike when they can. They have a plan to grow up, get married, and move to Hawaii, where they will adopt 25 pregnant dogs. It’s a good plan. They fit together like puzzle pieces but are happy to let others into their orbit, because they are comfortable and confident that the puzzle they make is stuck together for good.

The two characters in my picture book Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book) in many ways represent what it’s like to want a best friend. The chicken narrator wants to be included. He wants a friend who understands him, and he picks one – Snappsy – who he thinks he understands. He also learns that friends don’t generally want to be bossed around. Or narrated.

It seemed natural to extend that thread into the second book, Snappsy the Alligator and His Best Friend Forever (Probably), which is out in the world today (hurray!). The chicken is sure Snappsy is his BFF, but Snappsy’s not so sure. You can understand where the chicken is coming from. He was invited to a party at Snappsy’s house, he knows all about Snappsy and what he likes, and is pretty sure he knows what best friends do. They wear matching temporary tattoos! They do karaoke! They braid each other’s hair and wear pizza on their heads! Right? And, of course, they have a sleepover. Everyone knows that.

Ok, so maybe he got some of it wrong. Can you blame him? Best friends find each other because they share an interest in board games or owning a pregnant dog farm in Hawaii or wearing pizza hats. The chicken is navigating the rules of being Snappsy’s BFF, and at least he’s putting himself out there. Granted, in his case, “putting himself out there” means barging in to Snappsy’s bathroom to watch him brush his teeth.

Finding a best friend can be hard. Being a best friend is complicated. But having a best friend is wonderful.

I hope you like Snappsy the Alligator and His Best Friend Forever (Probably). If you do, I’ll be your best friend.

Julie Falatko wants to let her fifth grade self know that it’s okay to have more than one best friend forever. She writes from her home in Maine, where she lives with her BFF husband, her four BFF kids, and her two BFF dogs. She is the author of Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book), illustrated by Tim Miller (Viking, 2016); Snappsy the Alligator and his Best Friend Forever (Probably)(Viking, 2017); Two Dogs in a Trench Coat Go to School, illustrated by Colin Jack (Scholastic, 2018); No Boring Stories, illustrated by Charles Santoso (Viking, 2018); The Great Indoors, illustrated by Ruth Chan (Disney-Hyperion, 2019); and Help Wanted: One Rooster (Viking, 2019). You can find her on Twitter @JulieFalatko or at her website http://juliefalatko.com.