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Greenleaf Book Group
Service Provider
The NeverEnd Friend
Achille and his teddy bear, Benji, are heroic adventurers and best friends. One night, Benji is lost, and Achille feels helpless. When Achille learns that Benji is on top of the monstrous Mount NeverEnd, Achille embarks on a difficult journey to recover him. He braves the steep slopes, outsmarts a horrible ogre, and travels through a wondrous forest . . . but Achille performs his most courageous and selfless act of all after reaching the top of Mount NeverEnd. Detailed illustrations create a richly imagined world in this poignant and enchanting story about courage, confidence, and true friendship.
Grossi’s rousing, beautifully illustrated debut introduces a brave young hero who has "tamed fiery dragons, sailed stormy seas, and napped on the moon." Achille embarks on a dangerous adventure to find his lost bear, Benji, his "bestest friend.” With the direction of his guardian angel, Claire, Achille treks up a mountain called Mount NeverEnd, "where all lost friends go,” facing dangers and terrible weather before plunging into a dark cave, encountering a fearsome green ogre, and experiencing the most frightening thing of all: the lights going out, both in his flashlight and in the sky itself. Blending traditional fantasy with surprising bits of contemporary life, like that flashlight, that teddy bear, and glimpses of a bedroom and a snoring boy, The NeverEnd Friend smartly links dream-time and story time as it recounts a heart-warming adventure about believing in yourself and letting go.

Inspired by her young son, Grossi weaves an engaging—and gently suspenseful—story about friendship, perseverance, and independence. Drawing on classic characters from Greek mythology and tales of cunning and triumph, such as Archimedes and his defeat of the Roman ships, Grossi conjures a fresh story with a timeless feel, one likely to capture young readers’ attention even as it imparts lessons. Adventure lovers will root for and be enthralled by Achille as Igor Kovyar’s illustrations emphasize the loneliness of the quest, the spooky depths of a cavern, or the deep chill of snowy forest nights. Grossi wisely trusts the power of the archetypal story, and of Kovyar’s art, to grip readers without wordiness or over explanation.

The revelation of where Benji has gone to is satisfying, surprising, and cute as can be, a welcome burst of warmth after the wintry trek. Also heartening: Achille’s understanding, under cold but brilliant stars, that it was love and friendship that gave him the heart to persevere. With stunning page spreads that reward attention, and a strong-willed, fiercely loyal young hero, The NeverEnd Friend is a touching story with strong themes of friendship, courage, and self-confidence.

Takeaway: Warm wintry adventure of friendship and perseverance, lovingly illustrated.

Comparable Titles: Christopher Denise’s Knight Owl, Jim LaMarche’s The Raft.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A