It is never too early (or too late) to learn another lesson about
friendship. Friendship is complicated yet simple, frustrating yet
rewarding. Children learn these things from experience beginning
at a young age, and reading about them can be not only encouraging
but eye-opening. That is precisely what The Checker Players is
all about. The dedication, nurture, forgiveness, and teamwork that
are essential to a friendship are taught in this book through a
delightful story with stunning illustrations. The conversations
between the characters are priceless, comical even for adults.
Byron Barton's artwork is really striking in this book, playing
again with the idea of opposites mixing well, such as complicated
ideas with simple color schemes. The limited color palette is juxtaposed
nicely against the great detail seen on every page, right down
to the patches on the characters' clothing.
One of the first things we gleaned from this book is that friendship
can be found in the least expected of companions. Complete opposites
can be staunch comrades. You don't need a lot in common: even just
one thing (like playing checkers) is adequate. Resourcefulness
is another key element in this tale. It is a character trait that
every child should want to emulate. The tinker and the carpenter
really make it desirable. From crossing the river to building boats
to rescuing the carpenter, they learn that teamwork and friendship
really blossom when the characteristic of resourcefulness is practiced.
This book is a great conversation piece. The story is simple enough
to be understood by young readers but complicated enough in principle
to spur great discussion. Available for under $12, this is a well-priced
book. It is a good read for all ages, although perhaps geared toward
older elementary students. This is a great book to have on the
home bookshelf as well as in the classroom. I would prefer a hardback
copy, as I foresee it gaining much love in use. When it comes to
the fun and games of friendship, this is the rule book, and I suggest
that you keep it on hand.