Hope Larsons eagle rock series gets his third installment All my friends in this week.
The first two volumes in the series The whole summer and Now all together, watched series star Bina go through familiar middle school milestones: boyfriend-and-boy drama, discovering music and, familiar to any musician of that age, trying to figure out how to be in a band is.
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Volume 3 finds Bina stuck in a band rather than her real teenage band where everyone is struggling to keep the beat and doesn’t quite understand how to write songs. No, clean eagle rock, Bina and her band mates Kesi and Lora are apparent child prodigies with a digital EP and real gigs. . . and possible record deals for their project Fancy Pink.
It’s real wish-fulfillment stuff, but the series generally aims less at a wisdom of being a teenager and more at a cute, ambitious version of puberty: These aren’t books to prank kids, they’re books give hope to the children.
Bina’s talents are natural, as any artistic child hopes his talents would be; Her goals are achievable, her friends are cute, and the drama she faces is generally well-intentioned. Unlike a lot of children’s media and young adult literature, there aren’t many “life’s unfair, adults want to get you, and romance will gut you” vibes.
A key ingredient of the series is that the cute boy drama, while there, is a deep, deep backdrop – Bina’s awkward moments with boys are generally easy to maneuver and filled with mutual understanding. This frees the story for what really matters: the drama of creative fulfillment.
In All my friends, Bina has finally found her bandmates, sure, but the struggle to create the art you want to create lurks in the growing pains: hurdles placed in front of the wild expectations all artists secretly harbor.
For Bina — who, let’s face it, lives an extraordinarily charming life — the hurdles are small but pervasive. Sure, one of Fancy Pink’s songs is licensed to a TV show that Bina loves; sure, she’s asked to guest-star on records; Sure, there’s an unbelievable offer for a record deal. Parental interference – friendly interference with a very real and loving purpose – stands in the way of her superstardom.
The girls from Fancy Pink are daredevils and decide to record a do-it-yourself style album – fitting for cartoonist Hope Larson, who has spent part of her career making lovely, impactful handmade mini-comics.
This way is the eagle rock Series offers a kind of motivational modeling for kids with dreams: keep at it, create, hope for the best and don’t let the hard things get in your way. It’s a powerful message delivered without fuss, and Bina has a kind of prescient persistence that it’s hard to doubt that she’ll get things done. Not even the ubiquitous condescending boys can annoy her.
All my friends isn’t the most dramatic of the series – the title tells you that Bina is in control of certain parts of her life – but it’s certainly the most uplifting. It’s a rewarding Act 3, one without much hand-wringing. Bina’s relationships have strengthened, smoothed out, and each of them contains some kind of iconic example of a healthy, even if tense, example. You have your band friends and your crushes, you have your slightly older wise friends and you have your caring but steady parents.
Sweet, honest, but maybe a bit of a best-case scenario, it’s a joy to read – and a joy to daydream with Bina beyond that. It makes a great gift for the soon-to-be niece or nephew, but it’s also just a lovely treat for yourself.
All My Friends is a friendly, up-and-coming third act ready to inspire young minds
All my friends
Inspirational and friendly, All My Friends is a little bit of a children’s guide, even if there is little action.
Larson’s impeccable drafting is flawless.
Really drives home the message of DIY ingenuity and an attitude of sticking with it.
Offers very little conflict.
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