Discovering Alison Friend

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Next to my desk there is a stack of books and in that stack is a picture book about a cat. A Scrawny Cat, to be specific. The book by Phyllis Root and illustrated by Alison Friend was one of the books I planned to write about so it was in an unofficial queue waiting for its turn to be the star.

Over the weekend, I was looking through the books and deciding which one to write about next. And then I noticed something. Lying on top of Scrawny Cat was another book, Bramble and Maggie, an early reader book about a girl and her horse.  Bramble and Maggie was written by Jessie Haas, but the illustrator is Alison Friend. The two books were meant to be written about together!  It’s perfect actually because I love them both – and I am the newest member of the Alison Friend fan club.

Bramble and Maggie is one of those perfect books for young horse lovers eager to read “chapter books.”  Jessie Haas is the author of over twenty-five books, many of them about horses. Her book, Runaway Radish, has always been popular in Inly’s library. Bramble and Maggie is about a horse looking for a new life. He’s tired of “going around in circles.”  Bramble’s owner decides that her bored horse would be better with a new family and decides to give her away for free. Maggie, her father says, “is in love with all horses.”  I don’t want to give the rest of the story away, but perhaps you can guess!

Like “girl meets horse,” a story of a cat looking for home has been told before, but don’t let that stop you from checking out either of these books. Both feel fresh, no easy task when writing about horses or cats. It was Alison Friend’s illustrations of the “scrawny cat” that drew me in. His eyes are so expressive, and as you might expect, at the end he is not so scrawny!  I anticipate Scrawny Cat to be a story time favorite this year. I’ve never considered myself a cat person, but if any book was going to change that, it would be this one.


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