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Jeanne Styczinski was one of the first author/illustrators who we partnered with when we launched Lu and Bean Read two years ago. We featured her two counting books for very young readers in a giveaway and added Papa, Why Does the Sun Shine? to our list of books perfect for dads to share with their kids. Now she has a new book called Who Will Be My Friend?, geared toward older picture book readers and focusing on the themes of friendship and inclusion.

Who Will Be My Friend?

Who Will Be My Friend? is about Little Owl’s quest to find a feathered friend to play with. But just as Little Owl is ready to get her day started, her friends are ready to hit the hay. The owl tries Cardinal, Chickadee, Robin, Blue Jay and more winged friends, but they all know that when the sun goes to sleep it’s time for birds to go to sleep. But could Little Owl be forgetting someone? Maybe there is a flying friend who likes to stay up late just like Little Owl.

Who Will Be My Friend? teaches little ones that value of looking beyond friends who look like them—maybe they have overlooked potential friends right before their eyes! As always, Jeanne’s cut paper collage illustrations are vibrant and engaging (you can learn about her creative process here). The back matter offers facts about each bird and bug featured in the book, as well as three bird feeder projects that kids can complete with an adult. I would recommend this book to early picture book readers who are still learning that there are lots of ways to make a friend.

Counting Books

Let’s face it. Most counting books aren’t…that riveting…for parents to read to their children. We all know they are important. Counting seems like a good life skill. But are we really that excited to read Doggies one more time? So much repetition. So much barking.

But repetition is important to learning how to count. Actually, it turns out repetition is important for learning how to do most things. As a veteran kindergarten teacher, author/illustrator Jeanne Styczinski has years of experience using repetition to teach kids how to read, write and complete other critical life skills that take lots and lots of practice. Including counting.

When she sent me her counting books Mama, How Does the Wind Blow? and Papa, Why Does the Sun Shine?, my first thought was that Jeanne knew just how to use repetition without making my eyes glaze over. Actually, my first thought was OH MY GOODNESS THESE BOOKS ARE BEAUTIFUL. And my second thought was that Jeanne knew just how to use repetition without making my eyes glaze over. It doesn’t feel forced becuase it contributes to a storyline and it’s clear that it is there to support learning.

Both books follow a similar format. They start with a question about nature and then, by counting things that occur in the natural world—two chickadees, three leaves, four sleepy turtles, and so on—lead to answers to the books’ title questions. I won’t give it away, but both books end with a loving exchange between parent and child, followed by a cute and quirky final page.

These books are appropriate as read-alouds for very young children aged 0–3, but early readers could also gain confidence from the repeated phrases in the prose.

But back to how beautiful these books are. So pretty! Styczinski’s style is like a mixture of Eric Carle and Lauren Child. I especially love the colorful end pages—she thought of special details that aren’t found in many self-published books.

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