THE NEW FRIEND

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The narrator uses the past tense to describe an easygoing, intimate friendship: “I had a friend / a dear friend / with long brown hair.” The two delighted in playing outdoors: picking wildflowers, wading in the brook, and talking and reading together underneath a tree. But one day the narrator calls for her, and “she [isn’t] there.” A trip through the woods reveals that she is with a different friend, and this new duo does many of the same things she once did with the narrator. The narrator grieves—but dreams of a new friendship. Zolotow’s text, originally published in 1968 (with illustrations by Emily Arnold McCully), sensitively captures the trauma of abruptly losing a friend, never diminishing the pain of such a betrayal. Yet the story does not allow the protagonist to wallow in self-pity and instead ends on a moderately hopeful note: The narrator, though still sad, considers a future in which “I won’t care” about having lost this friendship. Chaud’s illustrations feature a verdant, richly colored world as the children run and play in the woods. Playful animal face masks the pair enjoys are used to great effect: When loyalties are abandoned, the narrator disconsolately watches the two new friends wear them, and an enigmatic rabbit mask conceals the identity of the narrator’s imagined new friend. All children are depicted as White.

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