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Reviewed by Dawn Weaver for Readers' Favorite
Based on a true story, A New Friend for Gilbert by Shirley Alarie is a sweet tale about a miniature horse who is lonely for a friend. Gilbert’s favorite pastimes are napping, munching on the sweet grass, and spending time with his humans, Makayla and Miss Debbie. These friends notice, though, how lonely Gilbert is and decide to do something about it. Meet Boots! He’s also a miniature horse, but he is bigger than Gilbert—and not very nice either. He is lively and quick and his favorite thing to do is run! Can these two very different horses become friends? Charmingly illustrated by Ileana Nadal, this book is a wonderful avenue for teaching children, and adults, about being good friends in spite of our differences.
If you love horses, especially minis, A New Friend for Gilbert by Shirley Alarie is the book for you. This delightful story gives us life from a mini point of view. I empathized with poor Gilbert, his aches, pains, and loneliness. And he looks like so many minis I’ve seen as well; that makes it much easier to relate to him. Similarly, I’ve noticed some people who remind me a lot of Boots, too. But Alarie reminds us that sometimes friendship just takes some time—and carrots. Ileana Nadal’s watercolors are the perfect complement to this timely story. The pictures and background information at the end of the book are wonderful additions which will connect with any reader. And teachers can use the discussion questions to generate wonderful conversations.