Forsythia & Me
What It Is
This new picture book fantasy is about best friends Chester and Forsythia. Everything Forsythia does is over-the-top and Chester is merely ordinary. For example, Forsythia can play a challenging piano concerto, and she can also play it sitting upside down or backwards. Also, she can make roses bloom in winter, and tame zoo animals to act proper at afternoon tea. One day, Forsythia is sick and cannot get out of bed. Chester bakes her a yummy cupcake, which makes her feel a bit better. He also plays piano for her, performs acrobatic tricks and dances a pirate’s jig. His acts of kindness nurse her back to health, and then she performs a special figure skating show just for Chester.
Why It’s Fun
The vibrant illustrations are the star of this book. With yellow as the dominant color, the action leaps off the pages. However, I found the story to be very bothersome. Forsythia is a show-off and quite full of herself. (She believes that forsythia flowers were named after her!) She goes on about her merry way, happily having Chester be her muse. Though he is supposed to be her “best friend,” it’s only after Forsythia is forced to stop and pay attention to Chester that she realizes he has some pretty incredible talents as well. The overall message of the book is one to keep for life ... learn to look past your own nose. At the same time, I feel that it also sends a message that you get noticed for what you can do rather than who you are.
Who’s Going To Love It
Kids may like the story, but as a parent, I don’t feel that either Forsythia or Chester is a character to admire. Forsythia was so self-involved that she didn’t even know her “best friend” had so many talents. And, Chester seemed to lack any backbone. While this book has fun illustrations, these are not messages I want to reinforce with my own children.
About 3 minutes
2 out of 10
FORSYTHIA & ME: A book about two amazing friends
By: Written and Illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch
Published by: Farrar Straus Giroux (2011)
Approximate retail price: $16.99
Publisher’s recommended ages: 4 - 8