My Best Friend is as Sharp as a Pencil

What It Is

As children, most of us endured a litany of questions about school from Grandma, or other relative, such as “What is your teacher like?” or “Who is your best friend?” Well, the subject of this book decides to answer these questions by showing Grandma the answers using related objects from her (or his — the gender is somewhat ambiguous) house. These “found” objects are depicted in the book using still photography so readers will see them as they really are. For example, when the girl describes her teacher, a real-life picture of candy is next to the statement “she’s sweet as candy.” The sentence about best friend Jack being “as curious as a magnifying glass” is accompanied by a photo of one. And so the story goes through details about friends, the art teacher, librarian, etc. The ending is a nice spread of all the kids standing together to celebrate their diverse interests and talents.

Why It’s Fun

The most appealing element of this book is the way in which author-illustrator Hanock Piven uses common objects to detail his illustrations and his ability to put several objects together to make a person or animal. For example, a young girl has a ballet slipper for her torso and the art teacher has a painter’s pallet as his face. This refreshing technique can spark kids’ creative juices in the home or classroom for projects beyond the traditional “macaroni artwork.” However, Piven’s story is a bit dull and seemingly exists to support the pictures instead of the other way around.

Who’s Going To Love It

Teachers and parents with a creative flair will enjoy the inspiration they may receive from the graphics. And, adults will like to see that the book’s subject describes her teachers and classmates in mostly positive terms, which is a nice change from some of the brattiness we see in other children’s books. In sum, it’s a novelty book that is worth borrowing from the library once and a while, but probably not worth adding to a home library. Kids on the very younger end of the publisher’s recommended age range of 4 to 8 would enjoy it most because of its simplicity.

Reading Time

About 2-3 minutes

Read-It-Again Points

4 out of 10

Book Information

My Best Friend is as Sharp as a Pencil
By: Written and Illustrated by Hanoch Piven
Published by: Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books (2010)
Approximate retail price: $17.99 (hardcover)
Publisher’s recommended ages: 4 - 8

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