Just too darn cute! Read it!
Okay, I need to write more. But The Word for Friend is really just too darn cute. Aidan Cassie created a story where language barriers does not mean friendship barriers. Kemala the pangolin is excited for her new city, home and school. She is a happy, talkative little girl (pangolin) and it is not until she gets to school that things change. She does not know anyone. And more importantly, nobody speaks her language. How is she going to get through the day? Even if her teacher looks and sounds kind. But of course, as time goes on, Kemala meets a friend and the two learn to communicate with the universal language of friendship (and puppets).
There are bright colors, perfect details and just a lot of goodness going around. An afterwards by the author gives more about pangolins (though some traits come out in the story, like rolling up in a ball when nervous or scared) and about the inspiration behind the dual languages and which language is used. While the narrative is in English the students and teacher speak Esperanto. This was to show that the story could have been set anyplace.
While fun, there is also a seriousness to the story. The two tones unify the theme to help kids see themselves in the story. Maybe they do not speak a different language, but maybe they are “not the same” as their classmates in other ways. Plus, it shows that the world is filled with colorful people (and animals) that all are just looking for the same thing, friendship. All ages can enjoy, but it is slightly more aimed at an older crowd.