Too Many Friends is the beautiful new verse novel from Kathryn Apel, author of the acclaimed Bully on the Bus and On Track.
Having no friends is hard, but having a lot of friends can make life difficult too. By the end of Kathryn’s book, you’ll have formed your own conclusions about whether you can have Too Many Friends.
And at the end of this post, Kathryn provides some fabulous tips on writing.
Too Many Friends is a gentle book about friends, about making and breaking friends, about true friendship.
It’s for kids who find it difficult to juggle the needs of the people around them … to keep all the people they care about happy. (And that’s something that most adults find difficult too.)
It’s easy to warm to Kathryn Apel’s main character, Tahnee who wants to be friends with everyone, and who wants all her friends to be friends with each other. This causes tension and heartache, but Tahnee won’t budge from her goal.
I love Tahnee’s generous inclusive nature. Lucy is shy and a bit of an outcast, but Tahnee is determined to include her in their friendship group, even if it risks existing friendship.
And when Tahnee has a birthday, EVERYONE must be invited.
‘You can’t have that many friends!’
Tahnee has 23 on her list.
‘I don’t want anyone to feel
left out,’ I say.
Soon Mum and Dad are involved in the excitement of the party plans.
Meanwhile, at school, Miss Darling has the children conducting a science experiment.
we start testing
the effects of force
The push and pull of the experiment is symbolic of what’s happening with Tahnee and her friendships.
I love the way author Kathryn Apel adds depth and meaning to her work using these kinds of devices that young readers will easily relate to.
As well as introducing common dilemmas for kids, Too Many Friends introduces a whole range of fabulous classroom activities for teachers both within the book, and inspired by it.
Too Many Friends is lyrical and sensitive. A beautifully crafted story that will warm your heart.
Kathryn Apel uses words and shape, symbolism and rhythm to create this easy to read, but absorbing verse novel for younger readers, published by UQP.
Below, Kathryn shares some fabulous tips on how she wrote Too Many Friends.
KATHRYN APEL’S WRITING TIPS
Kathryn Apel – Five Writing Tips for ‘Too Many Friends’
Listen: Life is made of experiences that can shape your writing. Sometimes a story needs to find you. Listen! I wrote a story-note on my phone after a conversation with a friend about her daughter; ‘a story about a girl with too many friends’.
Play: Throw words around. Juggle them. Try a new word for shape and size. Play with form.
Remember the big picture; whilst a word might be the best choice for that given situation, if that word is also the best choice in numerous other situations … you have a problem! (Related: Smile. Lots. In real life. But not too much in your writing. No matter how many friends your main character has – or how lovely your editor is – you can’t get away with too many ‘smiles’!)
Have a Joke: One poem (jokingly named ‘The BIG Smile-ing Thing’ – See Point 2) was written during final edits and became one of the heart-warming turning points of the book. You’ll probably never guess which poem it is (once it served its purpose, it was renamed) – but I’ll remember the laugh I had with my editor when she saw that title.
Prioritise: Unexpected circumstances meant ‘Too Many Friends’ had to be at typesetters a month earlier than planned. The pressure was on – and I couldn’t work with life and family continually disrupting. First time ever, I took time out and went away. By myself. For a week! (I won’t rhapsodise too much …) The tightly coiled spring inside me unravelled, the words stuttered … and flowed. I wrote – into the night, and halfway to sunrise. I slept late, wrote more then pottered along for a week at my night-owl-pace … and met the deadline. And my family coped.
Bounce Back: One of my favourite poems (and my editor’s) was a shape poem – and it was perfect! … Until it came back from typesetters and we made the awful discovery that we hadn’t considered line-spacing! My pièce de résistance was cut in half and spread over two pages – and completely unrecognisable! I will always love the original Duck, Dad – and share sneaky-peeks at author visits – but the revised version is even better suited to this book!