Julia Jarman and Kate Pankhurst,
A Friend in Need!

Andersen, 2013, ISBN 978-1849395762

Erika, Phoebe and Daisy are close friends, or have been. Now Phoebe and Daisy are increasingly concerned at Erika’s lack of interest in them and their latest project. She seems to be fobbing them off, and they are hurt, confused and worried. The two of them respond in different ways, and get cross with each other. We read the thoughts of each of the three in turn. Gradually we realise that Erika is herself very worried, but doesn’t want to let on to her friends that she is being bullied. She hates the thought that she will be pitied, and that they will blab and make her situation worse. She’s convinced she must deal with the threatening texts she is receiving by herself. Phoebe and Daisy discover her secret, and do all in their power to help. They turn detective. When Erika’s dog is kidnapped, the stakes get higher.

A Friend in Need is the sequel to Make Friends Break Friends, though it works as a stand-alone novel. The writing is very accessible, and there are lots of attractive illustrations by Kate Pankhurst. The multiple narration is an effective device, revealing the story in an interesting and entertaining way, and helping the reader understand the viewpoints of each of the friends. It will be popular with lots of girls of seven and over, who will all identify with at least one of its appealing characters. Like its predecessor, it offers a realistic take on the complexities of girls’ friendships. The theme of bullying by text is well handled, and the book could be used to raise awareness and discussion about this important issue.