June 8 – National Best Friends Day

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About the Holiday

What would we do without our best friends? They’re the ones we go on adventures with, laugh with, commiserate with, even cry with. And no matter what, we know they’ll always be there for us. Best friends can be people we’ve known all our lives or ones we’ve just met; they can live far away or in our own home. Best friends don’t even have to be people—beloved pets or favorite toys are sometimes just what we need. Today is the perfect time to celebrate your best buddy. Get together with them, call, or text. Relive some favorite memories or make some new ones!

Painting Pepette

Written by Linda Ravin Lodding | Illustrated by Claire Fletcher

 

If you peek in the great room window of the grand yellow house at #9 Rue Laffette in Paris, you will most likely see cuddled on the comfortable seat Josette Bobette and her beloved stuffed rabbit Pepette. It’s their favorite place. Looking past them you will see that the great room is filled with fine art. On the walls hang portraits of the family—Josette’s mother is there as well as grand-mère and grand-père, the three Bobette sisters, and even their schnoodle Frizette.

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“One day Josette noticed something strange. There was no portrait of Pepette!” Josette determines to find an artist to paint a special portrait of her best friend. The pair heads out to Montmartre, where the all the best artists set up their easels to paint and sell their work. It doesn’t take long for a man in a striped shirt to stop them.

“‘Those ears!’” he cries. “‘Never have I seen such majestic ears. I must paint this rabbit’s portrait!’” Pepette blushes at such an effusive compliment, and Josette exclaims, “‘Magnifique!’” It appears Josette has found just the artist to create Pepette’s portrait. The painter waves his brush with a flourish, declares his painting a “masterpiece,” and holds it up for inspection. Josette gazes at a Pepette with two noses and three ears. Diplomatically, she proclaims the picture “nice” but not quite Pepette. Her best friend agrees.

Just then a man with a thin, curved handlebar mustache spies the pair. Admiring Pepette’s whiskers, the artist begs to capture “the very essence of her rabbitness!” He immediately sets to work, and in no time a most unusual portrait emerges. Pepette seems to melt from a tall red wall. Josette considers it and her reaction carefully. “‘It’s imaginative,’” she says. “‘But you’ve painted Pepette quite, well, droopy.’” Pepette agrees.

As Josette and Pepette enjoy a Parisian snack on the curb of Montmartre, a rakish young man happens along. He is arrested by Pepette’s nose, which he likens “‘a faint star twinkling in a misty, velvet night.’” Josette has a good feeling about this artist and follows him across the square to his easel. Pepette poses on a red tufted stool as the artist paints a rabbit soaring through the clouds. He proclaims the finished portrait “‘one of my best works’” as he displays it to the crowd. Josette likes the clouds but tells the painter that Pepette is afraid of heights and not fond of flying. Pepette agrees.

By now Pepette is the most sought-after model in Paris, and another artist rushes up, captivated by her beauty. The balding man in a dapper suit and round spectacles peers at Pepette. “‘What a colorful lady—balloon blue, pansy pink, and radish red!’” A little suspicious of his vision, Josette allows him to paint Pepette. “‘Ta da!’” the man exclaims, revealing the magic of his brush. Josette studies the canvas with its vibrant dots, dashes, and splashes. While she admires the colors, she reminds the artist that Pepette isn’t pink.

“‘Ah, yes,’” nods the painter. “‘But through art we can see the world any way we want.’”

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With the sun setting low in the sky, Josette politely says thank-you and goodbye to the artists. She and Pepette have enjoyed their day, but it’s time to go home. Curled up once more on the window seat, Josette sighs. She had so hoped to have the perfect portrait of Pepette—one that showed her velvety grey listening ears, her heart-shaped nose, and her soft arms that give tight hugs. Suddenly, Josette has an idea! Gathering all her art supplies, she creates the perfect likeness—as special as Pepette herself!

An author’s note on the last page describes the creative atmosphere of 1920s Paris, home to writers, artists, musicians, and fashion designers, that gives a frame to her story. The artists that Josette meets are inspired by Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Marc Chagall, and Henri Matisse.

In Painting Pepette Linda Ravin Lodding has written a multi-layered story of love, friendship, and unique vision. Through the sweet relationship between Josette and Pepette and with a sprinkling of humorous self-congratulation on the part of the artists, Lodding nudges readers to appreciate that while art can reveal and obscure, reflect and transcend reality, ultimately the success of a piece—complex or simple—lies within the viewer’s heart. Lodding’s lyrical language trips off the tongue and is a joy to read—it’s like following Josette as she skips happily through Paris.

Claire Fletcher’s striking pen and ink illustrations pay delicate homage to cityscapes of a bygone Paris. Adorable Josette in her white pinafore over red-dotted dress, red shoes, and big red bow along with her enchanting rabbit are the perfect tour guides through crowded Montmartre and an introduction of art history. Soft tones of yellow, rose, and green illuminate the apartments and cafes of the square where colorful shoppers and artists mingle. Fletcher’s renderings of Pepette’s various portraits will not only make kids giggle, but entice them to learn more about each artistic style. The final endpapers reveal that the four fine-art portraits now hang in the Muse of Paris, while readers already know that Josette’s perfectly perfect portrait of her well-loved friend has taken its rightful place on the wall in the Bobette great room!

Painting Pepette is a beautiful addition to any child’s bookshelf and a lovely way for teachers to initiate a discussion of art history and get kids excited about artists and different art styles.

Ages 4 – 9

little bee books, 2016 | ISBN 978-1499801361

Follow Josette through Paris as she searches for just the right artist to paint a portrait of her best friend Pepette and comes to a surprising discovery in this beautiful trailer:

Discover more books by author Linda Ravin Lodding on her website.

Illustrator Clair Fletcher invites you to find more of her artwork by visiting her online gallery.

Best Friends Day Activities

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Painting Pepette Reading and Activity Guide

 

little bee books has created an interactive activity so you can continue exploring Josette’s world and your own artistic talent! Just click here—Painting Pepette Reading and Activity Guide—to start having fun!

Stuck on You Magnets or Picture Hanger

 

Best friends stick together whether they’re near or far, right? Here’s a fun craft that you and your friends can make to show how magnetic personalities attract each other! If your best friend or friends are far away, why not make them one too? Or make the alternate picture hanger! Be creative—use inside jokes, favorite characters, or shared experiences to make these  crafts personal!

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For Magnets

Supplies

  • To get you started, here are two printable Best Friends Templates! Template 1 Template 2
  • Poster board
  • Large, 1 ½-inch clear glass stones (decorative fillers), available in craft stores
  • Markers or colored pencils OR find images online to print out
  • Medium to large flexible magnets, available in craft stores
  • Super glue
  • Toothpicks
  • Scissors

Directions

  • Place the glass stone on the poster board and trace around it
  • Draw your design in the circle on the poster board
  • Cut out the circle
  • With the toothpick, apply glue around the very edge of the design side of the circle
  • Attach the circle to the flat side of the stone, let dry
  • Trim the cardboard circle if needed
  • Attach the magnet to the back of the cardboard with glue

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For Map Picture Holder

Supplies

  • Use a mapping program to find a map of your town and your friend’s town
  • Poster board
  • Large, 1 ½-inch clear glass stones (decorative fillers), available in craft stores
  • Twine
  • Super Glue
  • Toothpicks
  • Scissors
  • Heavy duty mounting squares

Directions

  1. Find maps of your and your friend’s towns
  2. Zoom in so the name of your and your friend’s towns are displayed well. You will be using about a 1-inch area around the towns’ names.
  3. Take a screen shot of the maps
  4. Print the maps
  5. Place the glass stone on the map and trace around it
  6. Place the glass stone on the poster board and trace around it
  7. Cut out the circles on the map and poster board
  8. With the toothpick, glue the map to the poster board, let dry
  9. With the toothpick, apply glue around the very edge of the map side of the circle
  10. Attach the circle to the flat side of the glass stone, let dry
  11. Trim the cardboard circle if needed
  12. Repeat with the other map
  13. Attach a length of twine to the back of each glass stone
  14. Attach heavy duty mounting squares to the back of each glass stone
  15. Attach stones to the wall and hang pictures on the twine

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