Children's Review: I Don't Care

Two galoshes-wearing playmates rhapsodize in harmony about their friendship in the enchanting, energetic picture book I Don't Care, written by Julie Fogliano (Just in Case You Want to Fly; When Green Becomes Tomatoes). Caldecott Medal Honorees and real-life best friends Molly Idle (Pearl) and Juana Martinez-Neal (Zonia's Rain Forest) provide the illustrations of the adorable child characters, whom they based on their younger selves.

The girls begin facing away from each other with folded arms and unimpressed facial expressions, leaning against opposite sides of a tree trunk. They share a button-nosed, rosy-cheeked aesthetic, but Idle's younger avatar has a narrower face and a duck-tailed shock of light hair, while Martinez-Neal's has a sleek dark bob held by a single barrette. "[I] really don't care what you think of my hair/ or my eyes or my toes or my nose," Fogliano's verse announces bluntly. The "i don't care" list continues as the girls express their disinterest in each other's opinions of their singing, artistic abilities and families, but they also begin to cast each other curious, sidelong glances. When they finally give each other shy smiles, Fogliano shifts the conversation to a friendlier tone: "i really don't care about what shoes you wear." The children swap lunches, dance and turn the tree into an impromptu art gallery. The text's rhythm speeds up until the characters join hands and whirl into a laughing spin. "[I] really do care/ that you always play fair/ and don't change the rules/ when i'm winning," the narrator says, launching into a list of the reasons they appreciate each other that ends in a heart-tugging "i really do care a lot."

Idle and Martinez-Neal each took responsibility for drawing one of the children, and their care and respect for each shines through in the affection between the characters. Amorphous splotches of translucent color--sassy teal for Idle's character, sunny yellow for Martinez-Neal's--begin as small patches that grow, overlap, then blend as the girls thaw toward each other. Fogliano's verse has the bounce and joie de vivre of a game of hopscotch, making it a joy to read aloud in a group or one-on-one setting. Her subtle tone shifts between acts lift the mood gently upward from its early standoffishness to the satisfying high note of the conclusion. This ode to the bestie bond perfectly captures the essential foundations of friendship in any stage of life. --Jaclyn Fulwood, youth experience manager, Dayton Metro Library

Shelf Talker: Caldecott Honorees Molly Idle and Juana Martinez-Neal drew one adorable character each to accompany Julie Fogliano's bouncy, friendship-forward text in this energetic picture book.

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