Sometimes the Best Friendships are the Most Unexpected Ones

In August, many countries around the world celebrate Friendship Day! What a wonderful opportunity to be thankful for the friendships we never expected to have. And what better way to do that than to read stories that teach us to always keep an open mind and an open heart? When searching for stories about unlikely friendship, try searching the subjects “friendship” and “juvenile fiction” or “juvenile literature” along with other subjects that might hint at differences in the characters, such as “prejudice” or “opposites.” Another approach would be to search the keyword phrase “unlikely friendship.”

Intermediate and Young Adult Fiction

Cohen, Joshua C.
Leverage. 2011.
High school sophomore Danny excels at gymnastics but is bullied, like the rest of the gymnasts, by members of the football team, until an emotionally and physically scarred new student joins the football team and forms an unlikely friendship with Danny.
[SSHEL S Collection S. C6605l]

George, Madeleine.
Looks. 2008.
Two high school girls, one an anorexic poet and the other an obese loner, form an unlikely friendship.
[SSHEL S Collection and the Center for Children’s Books S. G2936l]

Green, John.
Paper Towns. 2008.
One month before graduating from his Central Florida high school, Quentin “Q” Jacobsen basks in the predictable boringness of his life until the beautiful and exciting Margo Roth Spiegelman, Q’s neighbor and classmate, takes him on a midnight adventure and then mysteriously disappears.
[SSHEL S Collection and the Center for Children’s Books S. G823p]

Griffin, Paul.
Burning Blue. 2012.
When beautiful, smart Nicole, disfigured by acid thrown in her face, and computer hacker Jay meet in the school psychologist’s office, they become friends and Jay resolves to find her attacker.
[SSHEL S Collection and the Center for Children’s Books S. G8756b]

Harlow, Joan Hiatt.
Firestorm! 2010.
A twelve-year-old street urchin and the son of Chicago’s most important jeweler strike up an unlikely friendship in the days before the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, and both are nearly trapped when the city goes up in flames.
[SSHEL S Collection S. H227f]

Hubbard, Kirsten.
Like Mandarin. 2011.
When shy, awkward fourteen-year-old Grace Carpenter is paired with the beautiful and wild Mandarin on a school project, an unlikely, explosive friendship begins, but all too soon, Grace discovers that Mandarin is a very troubled, even dangerous, girl.
[SSHEL S Collection and the Center for Children’s Books]

Napoli, Donna Jo.
Mogo, The Third Warthog. 2008.
When Mogo is cast out of his burrow to make room for a new litter, he learns how to survive and as an unlikely friendship with a young baboon blooms, Mogo finds the joy of friendship and love.
[SSHEL S Collection S. N162m]

de la Peña, Matt.
We Were Here. 2009.
Haunted by the event that sentences him to time in a group home, Miguel breaks out with two unlikely companions and together they begin their journey down the California coast hoping to get to Mexico and a new life.
[SSHEL S Collection and the Center for Children’s Books S. P3706w]

Sheldon, Dyan.
Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen. 1999.
In her first year at a suburban New Jersey high school, Mary Elizabeth Cep, who now calls herself “Lola,” sets her sights on the lead in the annual drama production, and finds herself in conflict with the most popular girl in school.
[SSHEL S Collection and the Center for Childrens Books S. Sh433c]

Spinelli, Jerry.
Stargirl. 2000.
In this story about the perils of popularity, the courage of nonconformity, and the thrill of first love, an eccentric student named Stargirl changes Mica High School forever.
[SSHEL S Collection and the Center for Children’s Books S. Sp46s]

Twain, Mark.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. 1994.
The adventures of a boy and a runaway slave as they travel down the Mississippi River on a raft.
[SSHEL S Collection S.C591H1994]

Wein, Elizabeth.
Code Name Verity. 2012.
In 1943, a British fighter plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France and the survivor tells a tale of friendship, war, espionage, and great courage as she relates what she must to survive while keeping secret all that she can.
[SSHEL S Collection and the Center for Children’s Books S. W432cn]

Yolen, Jane.
The Rogues. 2007.
After his family is evicted from their Scottish farm, fifteen-year-old Roddy forms an unlikely friendship with a notorious rogue who helps him outwit a tyrant landlord in order to find a family treasure and make his way to America.
[SSHEL S Collection S. Y78r]

Picture Books

Alemagna, Beatrice.
Bugs in the Garden. 2011.
What happens when the bugs venture out into the big, wide garden to find some new friends? This sturdy board book introduces lovable bugs who learn how to accept creatures they are initially afraid of.
[SSHEL S Collection SE. Al25b]

Bramsen, Carin.
Hey, Duck! 2013.
A plucky duckling attempts to befriend a cat that just wants to be left alone.
[SSHEL S Collection SE. B7323h]

Brown, Peter.
You Will Be My Friend! 2011.
Lucy, a young bear, starts her day determined to make a new friend but her enthusiasm leads to all sorts of problems until, just as she is about to give up, an unexpected friend finds her.
[SSHEL S Collection Q. SE. B812y]

Cannon, Janell.
Stellaluna. 1993.
Knocked from her mother’s safe embrace by an attacking owl, Stellaluna lands headfirst in a bird’s nest. This adorable baby fruit bat’s world is literally turned upside down when she is adopted by the occupants of the nest and adapts to their peculiar bird habits.
[SSHEL S Collection SE.C164S]

Folguiera, Rodrigo.
Ribbit! 2013.
When a pig visits a frog pond, sits on a rock, and says only “Ribbit!” news spreads fast, but only the wise old beetle has an explanation.
[SSHEL S Collection and the Center for Children’s Books SE. F713r]

Lionni, Leo.
An Extraordinary Egg. 1998.
Jessica the frog befriends the animal that hatches from an egg she brought home, thinking it is a chicken.
[SSHEL S Collection and the Center for Children’s Books SE. L661e]

Liu, Cynthea.
Wooby & Peep: A Story of Unlikely Friendship. 2013.
Wooby lives in a nice, quiet neighborhood where everyone minds his own business. And he likes it that way. Then noisy, energetic Peep moves next door with her banging and smashing and crashing. She even gives a “wild” PARTY! At first, shy Wooby is beside himself — until he realizes that he and Peep have more in common than he ever imagined.
[SSHEL S Collection SE. L7402w]

Long, Ethan.
Scribbles and Ink. 2012.
Scribbles the cat and Ink the mouse are two artists with very different styles. A disagreement over whose creative process is the best leads to a big mess. Discovering that they are no longer having any fun, the duo tentatively tries to collaborate and creates a masterpiece.
[SSHEL S Collection SE. L851s]

Polacco, Patricia.
Pink and Say. 1994.
The true story of a remarkable wartime friendship between a young white Union soldier and a young black Union soldier who are captured by Confederate soldiers and sent to Andersonville Prison.
[SSHEL S Collection and the Center for Children’s Books Q. SE. P757pi]

Sidjanski, Brigitte.
Little Chicken & Little Duck. 2007.
Despite the objections of their parents, who do not want them to play together, Little Chicken and Little Duck find a way to stay friends.
[SSHEL S Collection Q. SE. Si139l]

Non Fiction:
Antle, Bhagavan.
Suryia & Roscoe: The True Story of an Unlikely Friendship. 2011.
Who can imagine an orangutan being friends with a dog? Is it even possible? With Suryia and Roscoe it is! When Suryia the orangutan first meets Roscoe, a stray dog, they become best friends from the start.
[SSHEL S Collection SE. An879s]

Hatkoff, Isabella.
Own & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship. 2006.
The inspiring true story of two great friends, a baby hippo named Owen and a 130-yr-old giant tortoise named Mzee (Mm-ZAY).
[SSHEL S Collection and the Center for Children’s Books S.599.63 H286o]