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Reviewed by Rachelle Smith for Readers' Favorite
Part of the PenPal Gal’s series, Friends Forever by Julie Thiessen follows Reese on a vacation. Reese, who, along with her family, spends much of the summer months camping at Lake Shore Retreat, enjoys an annual week-long kick-off at the campground. This year, though, sees a new family arrive. When Reese first sees Addie, she is awed by her fearless leap into the lake. The two girls become fast friends and they spend the week having the “best and most fun days” while sharing adventures around the campground and pursuing mutual interests. Clearly, they were meant to be forever friends, and their memory-making week was just the start. But can the two sustain a long-distance friendship? Reese draws inspiration from her mother’s affinity for letter writing and devises a plan to keep in touch with Addie until they can again meet at the Retreat grounds.
Friends Forever by Julie Thiessen is a delightful book ideal for independent elementary readers. Illustrations by Vanessa Alexandre and Julie Thiessen are interspersed with the chapters. Little details like the dolphin patch on Reese’s duffle bag and the tube ride around the lake enclosed by big trees invite readers to picture the beauty of Lake Shore Retreat. This is a charming way to showcase the main plot idea in each short chapter. Julie Thiessen’s book is a testament to the lasting bond of friendship that spans distance and time. What the girls create is an endearing friendship pact reminiscent of the simpler device-free days of childhood past. As a bonus, there are a few letter-writing pages ready and waiting for the perfect pen pal.