We’re excited to be one of the stops on Karl Newson and Clara Anganuzzi‘s How to Mend a Friend blog tour!
How to Mend a Friend is a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book which looks at different ways that friends may deal with difficult situations and how we can support them if they need us.
Friends need different things to help them through difficult times. Some may need hugs but others prefer to be alone. Some write letters, others just want to shout. Some friends may want support from somebody else and others may not want to talk at all.
How to Mend a Friend’s easy to read text gives guidance as to how readers can help and support their friends who are experiencing difficulties. A little girl joins a variety of animals including singing dolphins, diary writing penguins and TV watching monkeys as she looks at ways that friends deal with problems and anxieties. She also provides support for the big cuddly polar bear on the cover, proving that friends can come in all shapes and sizes as well as having different personalities.
We love the message that How to Mend a Friend conveys – we are all different, we all deal with situations in different ways but we can all be a friend, just by being ourselves. This is a beautiful book to stimulate conversations about friendship and it can also help children to talk about ways that they can deal with their own difficult situations.
We’re always interested to hear about the inspiration for a story and are delighted that author Karl Newson has joined us to tell us more about where the idea for his book came from…
Karl’s inspiration for How to Mend a Friend
I spent a long time thinking that How to Mend a Friend was inspired by the experiences I had dealing with my cancer and then the love and support I was gifted by my family and friends during the treatment of it, but I’ve come to realise it’s actually about friendship. Everything else channelled into it, of course, but the heart of the story is focused on how to be there for a friend, how some friendships last for a day and others last for a lifetime (and that that’s OK) and how the best thing is just to be ‘you’ (because that’s what makes a friendship. No gimmicks, no pretending, no fake ‘likes’!!)
I wrote How to Mend a Friend over two years ago now, but I wanted its words to be true for all times and for all people. Nothing about it is specifically ‘me’ – unless you count the elephant Clara Anganuzzi illustrated so beautifully on the last page for my extended ‘Thank You’ note. It was important for me to write this, 1) to express my absolute heart-filled Thanks to everyone who had been there for me and powered me through a time that was most difficult for me. Their support was literally life changing. And 2) I wrote it to leave it behind, in as best a way as I possibly could. I wanted to acknowledge it and accept it and own it and keep on going without it. I know I can never really leave it behind…I’m still having regular check-ups and tests every few months and I will have for years yet, but that particular battle, I won (WE won!) and I’m not going to worry about that time anymore or remember every detail or wear it as a badge. If it comes back, I’ll be ready.
There is no mention of what has directly caused the friends in the story to feel sad or troubled, it’s very open. All the reader needs to know is that that whatever the reason there are lots and lots of ways to reach out to a friend in need and lots of things that might help them feel better, from cakes to letters, from giving hugs to lending a listening ear. But there are also the times when they might just want to be alone, and that’s OK too. I wanted to make clear that it’s nothing the friend has or hasn’t done, it’s just a moment that needs to be taken to oneself.
I don’t think it’s just our little readers who might not know how to be / act in a certain moment. I often struggle to know exactly what to do in difficult situations myself; how to express support, how to deal with someone else’s loss, how to know when to be there and when to not… I wonder at how some people can do this so well, as if it is a given way of doing things and saying things that I must have missed the lesson for at school / life. I always try to be my best but I often feel incredibly awkward, muddling my way through. Perhaps I wrote this as a guide for me to learn from too?!
Ultimately How to Mend a Friend was inspired by friends of near or far, those brand new and those as old as my memories. They all helped ‘mend’ me. And no matter how long our friendships last, that love and support will power me on for the rest of my days and I’ll be forever thankful. Friendship is a powerful thing!
Thank you so much for visiting Story Snug and sharing such a heartfelt and powerful blogpost Karl. Friendship IS a powerful thing and it is often during difficult and stressful situations that we really find out who our true friends really are.
About Karl Newson
Karl Newson is an award-winning children’s book author. Karl was inspired to write his first picture book when his children were small and he’s been writing stories ever since. His stories have been shortlisted for numerous children’s books awards and are translated in over 20 languages around the world. He is also an illustrator of other people’s stories and a writer of nonsense poetry. Karl lives in London, with his partner and a forest of pot plants.
You can read more about How to Mend a Friend on the other blog tour stops…
Thank you Studio Press for sending us a review copy of this beautiful, beautiful book.