Oscar Seeks a Friend is a whimsical and quirky take on the theme of childhood friendship. Oscar is lonely. He feels small and ugly and thinks that, because he has now also lost a front tooth, nobody will ever befriend him. But life has a way of surprising us and friendship blossoms when we least expect it. Oscar meets someone very different from him; someone whose world is not at all like his.
The quirkiness lies in the fact that Oscar is a small skeleton. His friend is not. Tolerance of difference is also a theme here. Pawlak has chosen a white-skinned, red-haired little girl to befriend Oscar. Her world is filled with colour – a world of rainbows and seaside and flowers. Oscar’s is a darker place, filled with skeleton animals and skeleton people and lots of serious-seeming butterflies. Unlikely as it seems, the book works. Pawlak’s decision to choose a skeleton as the main character, rather than a child from a contrasting ethnic background, is quite clever.
The illustrations in Oscar Seeks a Friend are a beautiful series of collages, and the contrast between the children’s two worlds is wonderfully executed. This book will be a welcome addition to any classroom where teachers want to encourage tolerance and respect for ‘the other’. Children will learn that people do not have to be at all like each other for friendship to flourish.
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