Sunny Solomon Book Review

Book Review: Many hare-raising questions raised in Nutbrowns’ story

Book Review: Many hare-raising questions raised in Nutbrowns’ storySunny Solomon Book ReviewBritish writer Sam McBratney and illustrator Anita Jeram published “Guess How Much I Love You” in 1994, and the book gained a loving and loyal following when it came out in the United States the following year.

It’s been in print ever since. But if you don’t immediately remember it, one look at the cover of their sequel, “Will You Be My Friend,” should do it. The image of Big and Little Nutbrown Hare tells you this is going to be a special picture book.

Briefly, Big Nutbrown Hare is busy working hard when Little Nutbrown Hare asks if he can go off and play. Big Nutbrown Hare says yes, but because Little Nutbrown wants to go off on his own, he is told not to go “too far.”

When Little Nutbrown Hare hops off for an adventure, he sees his reflection in a puddle and is unhappy that it is “only another me.” Next, he sees his shadow, and no matter how fast he goes, it follows him. Little Nutbrown Hare realizes it is “only another me.”

Then he reaches Cloudy Mountain and suddenly sees another hare. The Cloudy Mountain Hare tells him her name is Tipps. She asks Little Nutbrown if he wants to play and be her friend. Jeram’s illustrations say it all: They hop, they chase each other, dig a hole, make a pile of leaves. Then they play hide and seek. Each hides so well that by the time Little Nutbrown Hare has to go home, he hasn’t found Tipps.

Big Nutbrown Hare is happy to see Little Nutbrown and to know he had fun. Then they hear a nearby noise and out comes Tipps. Big Nutbrown wonders, “Where on earth did she come from?” Little Nutbrown explains that she is from Cloud Mountain, and her name is Tipps. And, most importantly, she is his friend.

McBratney’s story is not so simple if one reads the book several times before reading to a youngster. Did Little Nutbrown Hare know he wanted a friend? How do we know Big Nutbrown Hare loves Little Nutbrown? Why do we want to have friends? What can we do with a friend that we can’t do by ourselves? If the sun is out and it is safe to go outside, can we see our own shadow? Does a friend have to look exactly like us? Does the child being read to know how to play hide and seek?

“Will You Be My Friend” is not only for very young children. Even a child who is learning to read will love to follow along with you and point out when you miss a word. (Fake it if you have to. I’ve learned that there isn’t a young reader alive who doesn’t love finding a reader’s mistakes.)

I can’t wait to give this book to my friend who is expecting her fourth grandchild.

Sunny Solomon is a freelance writer and head of the Clayton Book Club. Visit her website at for her latest recommendations or just to ‘talk books.’