The Four Ever Friends

The Beginning

Children - Grade K-3rd
100 Pages
Reviewed on 08/24/2022
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite

Gracie is full of mixed emotions: she’s happy that school has been canceled for at least a week; she’s sad that she can’t see, visit or play with her friends; and she’s scared of what this Covid pandemic is all about. She knows her parents and her grandmother, Mimi, are worried, too. Gracie settles into a routine of schoolwork at home, daily screen time with Mimi, talking to her best friends, Lexie, Morgan, and Sophie, and doing puzzles, reading, and trying to have some fun while stuck at home with Dad working in an upstairs bedroom and Mom finding ways to keep her busy. When she shares with Mimi stories about her new friends and how they poop everywhere and she kept them locked in cages, Mimi is confused until she learns that these new friends, Raven and Squeaky, are guinea pigs, Gracie’s new pets. When Gracie’s Mom devises a plan with Lexie’s, Moran’s, and Sophie’s moms to have safe play sessions outside, things improve, and the creative powers of the imagination bond the girls in their activities, even though social distancing is still the norm.

Darlene Decrane’s early reader, The Four Ever Friends: The Beginning, is a compassionate telling of a difficult era in contemporary history. The author has woven a plot around the Covid pandemic and how it affected young people, stuck at home, isolated and frightened. The language is simple to help young readers work on their reading skills; there’s plenty of dialogue to help move the story along, and there are charming and imaginative illustrations to accompany the growing plot. The powerful message that rings through this entire story is the importance of family and friends and the lasting bonds created. Imagination is also emphasized, as young minds had to be creative in coming up with ways to entertain themselves during these difficult times. The story is fun, true to life, sometimes sad, and sometimes humorous. This is the first book in the Four Ever Friends series.

Pikasho Deka

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the lives of everyone on the planet. With worldwide lockdowns, most of us have been forced to live indoors for a prolonged period of time. But does that mean we should forget to have fun? Absolutely not. And The Four Ever Friends by Darlene Decrane demonstrates just that. The book follows four young girls in third grade who find ways to keep themselves occupied and have plenty of adventures while the whole world grinds to a halt. Gracie is a fun-loving nine-year-old who keeps herself busy during the lockdown by playing with her guinea pigs and working on craft projects. After months of no physical contact, she finally meets her best friends, Lexie, Morgan, and Sophie, with whom she works on a cheeky rap song about their adventures during the pandemic.

The Four Ever Friends is a fun-filled adventure tale showcasing that all you need is your imagination and the will to play to have a good time, even under trying circumstances. Author Darlene Decrane draws inspiration from her own granddaughter's relationships with her friends to tell a joyous tale about four best friends overcoming the challenges of the pandemic and finding ways to preoccupy themselves with playful adventures. The characters are vibrant, and their colorful personalities pop out of the pages. Gracie and her friends steal every scene they are in together, and their friendship is the underlying core of the narrative. The Four Ever Friends is full of hope and a sense of wonder that we need more in our lives. Highly recommended.

Anne-Marie Reynolds

The Four Ever Friends: The Beginning by Darlene Decrane is an educational yet humorous tale inspired by real people. The pandemic has hit but all the kids can see is extra time off school – until the reality of the situation strikes them. Four children – Lexie, Gracie, Morgan, and Sophie - must now learn how to deal with a new way of learning and a new way of being together. After several weeks of having no physical contact, the kids’ parents arrange some play dates, allowing the children to have fun and meet up again while wearing masks and practicing social distancing. This book teaches children that even though we are experiencing hard times, it is possible to maintain friendships, even make them stronger and that they can still have fun, just in a safer way.

The Four Ever Friends by Darlene Decrane is a cool story for kids that also teaches them how to have fun during tough times. To be fair, some adults could probably learn a thing or two from this book as well! Wonderfully illustrated, the story tells of four children, all friends, who are pulled apart by the pandemic and brought back together again in a safe way. It shows kids that COVID doesn’t have to be scary; it can be fun and they can learn to socialize safely while firming up much stronger bonds. Decrane has managed to capture the kids’ emotions engagingly with real characters that are easily relatable. You’ll feel their pain as they are pulled apart by isolation and their joy as they come back together again. A great story to help kids realize that difficult situations don’t have to mean the end of everything they knew and they can create new experiences to enjoy together.