You Can Be a Good Friend (No Matter What!): A Lil Tj Book

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$19.99  $18.59
Publish Date
9.43 X 11.19 X 0.36 inches | 0.93 pounds

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About the Author

Taraji P. Henson is a multiple award-winning actor, writer, director, producer, and activist for mental health. She is the New York Times bestselling author of Around the Way Girl. Her natural humor and honesty, and her desire to encourage everyone to live true to yourself are reflected in Lil TJ, the main character in her first picture book. Taraji is a Washington DC native and currently lives in Los Angeles, CA.

Paul Kellam is an illustrator based in Jacksonville, where his first drawings began in crayon on his parents' home walls. At an early age, he developed a love for art, inspired by the many cartoons he watched so passionately. Paul breathes life into his work using juicy hues and rhythmic shapes, proudly illustrating stories that celebrate diversity and paint all shades in a positive light. He illustrated the award-winning novel The Good Turn as well as Antonello: Mellow Fellow. Paul loves to eat (especially Chinese), tend to plants, and watch anime with his roomie.

Actress, mental-health advocate, and debut picture-book author Henson's text follows Lil TJ as she embarks on a journey to her first day of school, excited about the new friendships she plans to make. However, when a kid named Beau begins to bully her, putting her down, Lil TJ begins to retreat into herself instead of being authentic and confident. But when she follows the advice of her beloved grandma to treat others with kindness as she would wish to be treated, she learns how to resolve matters peacefully with her new bully and turn him into an apologetic new friend. Coupled with Kellam's vibrant, stylistic illustrations that make everything neon colored and lively, Henson's story line shows young readers that kindness and empathy are key, that we shouldn't judge a book by its cover, and that differences should be celebrated, not mocked. A closing note from the author imparts advice to parents dealing with children who are being bullied.--Booklist
In actor and mental health advocate Henson's debut picture book, a young girl facing troubles at school takes her grandma's advice. Lil TJ can't wait to start school and make new friends. She has her own unique style, and she lets it shine on her first day. She participates eagerly, but at recess, a boy named Beau gives her a hard time. Beau mocks everything about her, from her small stature to the peanut butter and tomato sandwich she eats at lunch. Lil TJ starts to dull her shine. She wears plain clothes and styles her hair like the other girls in class to avoid Beau's attention, but she's still nervous. And will she ever make friends? Grandma Patsy, with whom Lil TJ talks almost daily on her tablet, reminds her that nurturing friendships takes time and tells her she should continue to be her sweet self. The next day at recess, Lil TJ stays inside and plays music. When other kids hear, they join her, and Beau looks nervous as he struggles with an instrument. Lil TJ remembers Grandma Patsy's words of wisdom and takes the opportunity to turn her and Beau's relationship around. While the message is timeless and the characters likable, the story's resolution feels a bit too easy. Lively, expressive, cartoonlike illustrations bring the straightforward text to life. Lil TJ is Black, Beau is brown-skinned, and their class is diverse. A solid choice for starting discussions on bullying, friendship, and kindness. (author's note) (Picture book. 4-7)--Kirkus Reviews
PreS-Gr 3--Lil TJ is about to start school and just knows she's going to make millions of friends. She says as much to her grandma, who tells TJ that friendships need to be nurtured if they're going to grow. With that in mind, TJ prepares for school, having done her hair and donned her best outfit. At first, she's excited to answer the teacher's questions and play music, but the day soon turns sour when she encounters a bully named Beau who is mean to her at every turn. Beau does not let her enjoy drawing or her favorite lunch. Lil TJ tries to change herself to avoid attracting Beau's attention, but he keeps making her feel small. She goes to her grandma for advice, and her grandma advises TJ to be her sweet self and to be kind. By being herself, regardless of what Beau says, Lil TJ finds friendship and learns a lesson in kindness. This picture book is an excellent tool for adults and parents to help facilitate conversations surrounding bullying and fitting in. The author's note provides tips for parents who suspect their child is being bullied. Lil TJ's journey is a thoughtful and well-paced portrayal of staying true to and not;oneself and not;regardless of what anyone says. The eye-catching and not;illustrations feature dynamic characters of various skin tones. VERDICT This beautifully illustrated picture book tackles bullying and fitting in; an essential purchase for the picture book shelf. --Myiesha Speight--School Library Journal