The friendship of Omek and Yelfred has its ups and downs in Antoinette Portis’s picture book, Best Frints in the Whole Universe. These two alien-like buddies sometimes have trouble sharing or resolving disputes in an appropriate way, but young readers will giggle with delight at the friends and at the author’s invented language. Portis substitutes made-up words throughout the story, but the words correspond closely to familiar words, so that, in context, even preschool readers will be able to follow the adventures of these playmates. For example, Yelfred receives a flying “spoosip” for his “blurfday”, but Omek “shmackles” it into pieces. An illustrated glossary of the made-up words is included on the front and back endpapers.
The brightly-colored, cartoon-style illustrations of the characters and of their home planet of Boborp, are eye-catching, and Portis uses the same black outlining style used in her award-winning book, Not a Box. The target audience for this book would appear to be preschool and primary elementary readers, but readers of all ages will be delighted by the antics of these “frints” and by the fun language.
A sweet, funny book about friendship, Best Frints in the Whole Universe is clever and creative. Despite their sharp “teef”, antennae, and tails, Omek and Yelfred are much like earth children, who will be able to relate to the squabbles of these pals.
For readers who enjoy decoding words that are made up or are from other cultures, I also recommend Baloney (Henry P.) by Jon Scieszka and, for slightly older readers, Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis. And, at the end of Best Frints, you may even want to take up the author’s invitation to take a “turp” at making up your own words!
Cover image from Amazon.com