Friendship Maker, by Randa Abdel-Fattah

Welcome to my Manual.
My name is Lara Zany and I am an official Friendship Matchmaker.
If you’re reading this Manual it’s probably because you’re sick and tired of feeling lonely. Or maybe you have a friend but you’re not sure where you stand with them. Or maybe you’re the third wheel in a trio. Or can’t work out how to strike up a conversation with somebody in the canteen line. Maybe you’re the one who gets picked last at sports. Don’t worry. I’m here for you. You’ve come to the right place!

Lara Zany has it sorted. She knows just what friendship is and how to make it happen. She’s in Grade Five at Potts Court Primary School and is their official Friendship Matchmaker. She knows just how to help start conversations, avoid bullies, repair misunderstandings and much more. And everyone is happy with the service she’s providing. But now, there’s a new girl at school. Emily Wong doesn’t seem to understand the rules. In fact, she seems determined to break all Lara’s rules. Lara tries to save her from the bullies and from standing out, suggesting that she’ll never make friends if she keeps going. Instead of being grateful Emily challenges her to a competition.

Lara has put a lot of energy into her Manual. She is sure that it will soon be published by Harry Potter’s publisher and she will be catapulted into the world as an instant millionaire. But that’s the future. Right now, she’s keeping the manual a secret and most of her school energy is invested in sorting out all the friendships at school. There are rules for escaping the attention of the school bully, and for keeping your friends. Only occasionally is there a hint at the events that precipitated this preoccupation with analysing the ‘rules of friendship’. Readers will recognise the LBC (loner by choice), Trios, Quads, BOBF (Bus Only Best Friends), and some of the conversational gambits. The Friendship Matchmaker uses first person, and allows the reader to ‘read between the lines’, seeing what’s going on behind Lara’s words. Recommended for mid-primary readers.

The Friendship Matchmaker, Randa Abdel-Fattah
Omnibus Books 2011
ISBN: 9781862919204

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

This book is available in good bookstores or online from Fishpond.