April & Mae and the Movie Night
Megan Dowd Lambert, author
Megan Dowd Lambert is the author of A Kid of Their Own, A Crow of His Own, Real Sisters Pretend, and Reading Picture Books with Children. Her experiences as a white mother of seven children in a blended, multiracial, queer, adoptive family inform her work as an author, reviewer, and educator. A former children's literature instructor at Simmons University, Megan reviews and writes for Kirkus and Horn Book; is a consultant with EmbraceRace, a community focused on race and kids; and serves on the curation team of Our Shelves, a subscription box service that features racially diverse, LGBTQ+, and feminist characters and families.
Read more about Megan.
Gisela Bohórquez, illustrator
Gisela Bohórquez fell in love with drawing when her parents gave her a huge box of crayons at three years old. Born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, she was always surrounded by her uncle Jairo’s amazing books and her father’s drawings. At school, she used to sell little stickers with animals she drew herself. Ever since, Gisela knew she wanted to be an artist and work with shapes and colors. She studied Graphic Design in college, where she learned digital illustration and fell in love with those techniques. She loves to put her whole heart in her work: according to her, that’s the secret to connecting people with her designs.
Read more about Gisela.
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School Library Journal
April and Mae get together for Saturday movie night at April’s house. Even though they are best friends, they do not share the same likes and dislikes. Mae brings over pizza with pineapple and pepper toppings to accommodate both of their tastes. April selects a scary movie that she knows her friend will like. Simple sentence structures, with one- and two-syllable words, make this story accessible to emerging readers ready for slightly longer stories with deeper content. The brightly colored illustrations effectively convey the range of emotions felt by the girls over the course of the evening—from joy at seeing each other to concern about the movie’s content. Mae articulates the story’s central theme: “Friends do not have to like all the same things... Friends just have to like each other.” The characters’ actions reinforce the point, but the narrative fails to address the fact that being a friend sometimes means putting the needs of the other person before your own. After trying to watch Mae’s scary movie, a fearful April ends up spending part of the evening hiding under the kitchen table with Mae’s cat. This seems like a missed opportunity for Mae.
VERDICT The story helps children understand that best friends can have different interests, but it remains silent on the value of compromise.
April and Mae are best friends. So are their cat and dog. Every day, they do an activity together. Saturdays are their movie nights. April brings pineapple to put on top of their pizza because she knows it's Mae's favorite. Mae chooses the movie, and tonight she picks a scary movie she knows April will like. Though the girls try, they don't always like the same things. How can they stay friends if they have different preferences? Bright illustrations walk young readers through a story about friendship, particularly how to navigate conflict and support each other even when one friend likes things the other isn't comfortable with, like scary movies. Simple sentences, humor, and vivid facial expressions make the story accessible to young readers transitioning from picture books toward chapter books. This is a great series for parents or caregivers who are helping early elementary students explore the emotional challenges of friendships.
Page count: 48
6 x 9