Once Upon a Friend

by Dan Gemeinhart (Author) Shinyeon Moon (Illustrator)

Reading Level: K − 1st Grade

A wondrous, heartwarming tribute to the fictional friends we make in stories, the comfort and joy we find in them, and the delight of passing them down through the generations--for fans of Beekle, Toy Story, and Inside Out.

Once upon a time, I met my reader. . .

As soon as our young reader opens the cover of Meego's book, the pair are the best of friends. Side by side, they leap from the adventures in Meego's stories to the adventures in the child's real life. From courageously creeping into shadowy caves to weathering Very Big Days like the first day of school, the friends journey and grow together through thick and thin.

Though seasons turn, just like pages, the friends and memories we make within stories always stay with us. Once Upon a Friend is an imaginative ode to the beloved fictional characters who we never leave behind.

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A sweet ode to the stories and characters we love.

Publisher's Weekly

Middle grade author Gemeinhart makes his picture book debut with a familiar-feeling story of connection that springs up between a child reader and the creaturely protagonist of the child’s favorite series. Moon draws book character Meego, this story’s pensive narrator, in crisp lines and soft colors: the purple creature sports rosy cheeks, a raccoon-like tail, and a hat topped with a white flower. Though Meego frets between readings, there seems little cause for immediate alarm, since the child, portrayed with brown skin, insists on regular rereads (“Again!!!”) as well as on toting the book during various milestones. “My covers opened less and less” as the child matures, but one day Meego is taken from “dust and shadows.” It’s an earnestly told work best directed at readers in the throes of object attachment. Ages 3–6. (June)

Copyright 2024 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission

Dan Gemeinhart

Dan Gemeinhart is the # 1 New York Times-bestselling author of The Midnight Children, The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise, The Honest Truth, Some Kind of Courage, Scar Island, and Good Dog. A former elementary teacher-librarian and lifelong book nerd, He lives with his wife and three daughters in a small town in Washington state.

ShinYeon Moon is a New York-based illustrator. She received her MFA from the School of Visual Arts, where she has also taught. Her work has been recognized by various illustration publications. She is also the illustrator of Laolao's Dumplings.

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Henry Holt & Company
Publication date
June 18, 2024
BISAC categories
JUV039060 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Friendship
JUV047000 - Juvenile Fiction | Books & Libraries
JUV051000 - Juvenile Fiction | Imagination & Play
JUV013000 - Juvenile Fiction | Family | General
Library of Congress categories

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