Ping and Pong are Best Friends (mostly) by Tim Hopgood

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Ping and Pong are Best Friends (mostly) by Tim Hopgood

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Margaret Young
Reviewed by Margaret Young
Summary: A simple but beautiful story about friendship, with plenty of humour, and a moral to the story.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: March 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Childrens Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0857077493

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Ping and Pong are best mates, but Ping feels that he is always in Pong's shadow. Anything Ping can do, Pong can do better. Ping is learning to skate, taking baby steps on the ice while Pong twirls and zooms around him. Ping paints a colourful canvas with bright coloured splodges while Pong paints a lovely vase with flowers. No matter what he does, Pong can do it so much better that poor Ping gives up and decides to do nothing at all. But perhaps there is something that Ping can do better than anyone else, and that it just to be a friend. This is a fun book to read that had my four year old laughing out loud, but there is a lot more to this book than humour; it has a lovely heart warming message about friendship as well.

I think this is a book most children will relate to, but especially those with older siblings. I know my youngest feels discouraged at times, because almost anything he can do, his brother who is 3½ years older can do better. He can pick at the strings on the guitar and make sounds - his brother can play songs. He can play the video games, but his brother always wins, they can both ride a bike, but his brother will always be twice as fast. I know children often feel discouraged when a friend seems to be better at everything too, but this book shows us that it didn't matter whose painting was better, who caught the biggest fish or who could do the best tricks with the bouncy balls; what mattered was that Ping and Pong did all those things together. Ping had a special talent all along and that was just being a friend.

My son had a laugh at Ping's painting and his attempts to do things as well as Pong, but he felt sorry for him. Although the book does not show any difference in ages with the penguins, it is easy enough for a parent to add this in, explaining that Ping will be able to do more things as he grows older, and if this is obviously a subject a child is struggling with, this book provides the perfect opportunity for parents to provide a bit of affirmation by mentioning a few things the child does very well. This is also a good topic for parents of children who excel in everything to mention how their friends might feel and to encourage kindness and compassion.

But as much as I liked the moral to this story, the chance to discuss feeling left out, and perhaps to learn something from this book, none of these are the reason I would recommend buying this. The reason I would recommend this most, is simply because it is fun to read. This is book my son really enjoys, and that alone makes it worth buying.

The illustrations in this book are not overly sophisticated, but they are bright, colourful and charming. My son certainly loved them, and they do add to the story. The text is large and clear and easy enough for a child to follow along with, and this is very much the type of book to be read over and over again until a child can recite the text from memory. I do feel this book is better suited as a read aloud book than for newly emergent readers, as some of the vocabulary is bit challenging for a very young child, and printing the text over bright coloured backgrounds can be slightly distracting. But I do feel this might have some value for children who have progressed a bit with reading as the text is short and while a few words may be difficult, the majority of the words will be familiar to a child who has been reading for a few months or more. I can't say that I would buy this specifically for independent reading, but it does make an excellent book for an older child to read to a sibling and may provide a bit of extra practice as a child begins to read on their own. I would expect a child reading at bookband blue to green or stage 4-5 to be able to tackle this, perhaps with help on one or two words.

For further reading we can also recommend:

Pedro The Penguin (Get Well Friends) by Kes Gray and Mary McQuillan

Friends by Michael Foreman

Little Penguin Learns to Swim by Dubravka Kolanovic and Eilidh Rose

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