I think it's a genius book - the writer and illustrator are at the top of their game.

Kate De Goldi, Radio New Zealand National

Friends: Snake and Lizard

Although Snake and Lizard argue a lot, they are the best of friends. A warm and funny story about friendship from Joy Cowley.

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  • Description

    Two very different creatures learn about the give-and-take of  friendship in this warm and funny story set in the desert.

    Snake is elegant and calm, and a little self-centred. Lizard is exuberant and irrepressible.

    With its wisdom, acceptance and good humour, Friends: Snake and Lizard captures the essence of friendship.

    The stories are beautifully illustrated by Gavin Bishop in warm and clear colours of the desert.

    ‘I absolutely LOVE eggs!’ Snake said. ‘You know that.’
    Lizard replied, ‘You mean you like eggs. We do not use the word love for food.’
    ‘I do.’
    ‘Love,’ said Lizard, ‘is a word for relationships, not for things. You can’t have a relationship with your dinner.’
    ‘I can,’ Snake replied.

    Friends: Snake and Lizard continues the daily adventures of this lovable pair as they meet a frog without its croak, a coyote with a thorny problem, a nosy porcupine and many other creatures of the desert, even human things. And although Snake and Lizard argue a lot, they remain the best of friends.

  • Book Details

    Country of Origin New Zealand
    Reader Age 5-7 year, 6-8 year, 8-12 year
    Book Size

  • Reviews

    1. Nelson Mail, May 2010

      I think this is a very, very good book, better than Snake and Lizard because it’s longer and much more interesting, because this time Snake and Lizard are helping people more. But it’s harder to read. When I got Daddy to read it to me it was easier to understand.

      I would recommend this book to people who like chapter books – not just picture books. The pictures give you really good clues to some tricky bits. This book shows you how good chapter books are. It has sad and funny and tricky bits like a sky egg, monsters, and when Jack Rabbit dies. It tells you about being friends and that it’s okay that friends argue and lots of other things that might help you later on in life when you’re making friends, like love and truth. – Reviewed by CARYS GWYNNE, age 6

    2. Taranaki Daily News, April 2010

      It can be a huge transition from littlies’ picture books to chapter books, where words dominate. And those early chapter books are not always marked by gifted writing, not at all. So welcome again to our very own Joy Cowley, who proves it can be done. The tales of Snake and Lizard and their desert companions owe something to the traditional animal fable. Each chapter is a stand-alone tale, generally with a moral of sorts. What makes this book special is that the animals generally behave true(ish) to nature, showing characteristics typical of their different species, while giving charming commentary on the nature of the human condition. It is an absolute delight for adults who will understand the subtleties and references (I laughed out loud at times) while giving entirely satisfying stories for children in that four-to-seven age range… Buy this book to read aloud to the children in your life… The author and illustrator are giants in the New Zealand children’s book scene and have built up considerable bodies of work over some time. This one is right up there with the best.

    3. Hawkes Bay Weekend, January 2010

      Oh, what a treat when two of New Zealand’s best get together – Joy Cowley as writer… and Gavin Bishop as illustrator of her further adventures of this amiable pair. The first in the series, Snake and Lizard, ran away with nearly every New Zealand merit award there is in 2008, and this looks set to follow suit. It is written for ages 6 and up and Cowley tells us how the friends cope with a frog that’s lost its croak, a coyote with a thorny dilemma, a curious porcupine and other desert creatures, including the occasional human being. She’s an elegant writer, Cowley, and that makes her book a delight to read aloud or on the page. She also offers excellent lessons on friendship that every child will relate to as two very different animals accept and respect each other on a daily basis. And Bishop does her proud… I’m sure children, parents and teachers will all enjoy sharing the fun of this story together.

    4. Magpies, March 2010

      This is a feel-good book in more ways than one. My first positive impressions were visual and tactile. The eye-catching orange cover is a semi-glossy good-quality cardboard, with generous turn-on flaps. Open up the book and you see a lovely double-spread on the end papers showing a colourful display of desert flora and fauna… Finally a browse through the pages reveals a satisfying mix of text and illustration – and at the same time you can enjoy the feel of the heavy-duty cream-coloured pages. Congratulations to Gecko Press for such superb production.

      This second book about Snake and Lizard continues the gentle, wise tone of the first book. Like any friends, Snake and Lizard have their moments of disagreement and misunderstanding, but the always make up afterwards. Added to the heart-warming relationship between the two friends is a generous dollop of humour that had me chuckling aloud at times. The episodic nature of the story means that most chapters would be excellent to read aloud in the classroom, one at a time. Gavin Bishop’s illustrations, with their bold outlines and muted shades, capture the colours of the desert. Recommended for readers of about 9 to 11.

    5. Marlborough Express, November 2009

      I love Cowley’s language – no dumbing down; just beautiful words that roll around the mouth and will be a delight to read.

    6. Nelson Mail, January 2010

      Snake and Lizard are characters analogous to the married couple – they face numerous challenges and dilemmas in their relationship, and in their daily lives, for which we, the readers, gain much enlightenment. Snake and Lizard are the life-trainers, the ‘helpers’, one could say the Nigel Lattas, of the animal world. These 17 short tales are titled for the core values that they draw on, albeit symbolically – Love, Loss, Truth, Coyote, Frog, Flies, The Hero. They are humorous, honest, realistic and accessible. Their real worth and beauty lies in the universality of the message, and the ease with which it is conveyed and enjoyed. These are not specifically New Zealand stories, despite the authors being so, but set in a desert environment of no particular locale. Sometimes there is a biblical feel, though not explicitly. Cowley and Bishop have created an international masterpiece in this series, with the classic appeal of Aesop’s fables, the simplicity of Dr Seuss and the congeniality of AA Milne’s Pooh and Eeyore. I read the first book in this series, one tale daily, to teenage students, and they were well received. The stories read well out loud, and will resonate for all ages.

    7. Weekend Herald, December 2009

      A second series of tales about Snake and Lizard, two enterprising friends who live together and make it their business to help other creatures in the desert, such as frogs without croaks and run-over rabbits. The two friends are quite different, argue a lot and work out compromises, all the while talking about the big things: the cycle of life, the meaning of love, family and the strange ways of the humans who stray into their territory. The first book about the pair was NZ Post Book of the Year, and this is another fine outing from the New Zealand writer/illustrator ‘dream team’.

    8. Dominion Post Weekend, December 2009

      Joy Cowley brings an old-fashioned storyteller’s wisdom and Gavin Bishop offers his artist’s perception to Friends: Snake and Lizard, the sequel to 2007’s award-winning Snake and Lizard. Never denying the desert-dwellers their essential nature, the close and respectful friendship survives the ups and downs of life in a harsh environment with foes aplenty, while the friends’ take on humankind shows us in their terms – campers live in burrow-like tents and ‘shed their skin’ before a swim to reveal shamefully small patches of fur.

    9. School Journal Library (US), December 2011

      The book remains unflinchingly honest in its portrayal of the natural world. The matter-of-fact tone used to describe animals eating and being eaten, as well as descriptions of desert life, brings the setting to life for children. The thick, off-white pages and small illustrations in muted colours create a pleasant individual reading experience. With its more sophisticated subject matter, short chapters, and clever dialogue, it also makes for a satisfying read-aloud.

    10. Herald on Sunday, December 2009

      Gently humorous, adults will love reading this one aloud. It’s exactly what children’s books should be.

    11. Hawkes Bay Weekend, December 2009

      Two of this country’s most acclaimed authors/illustrators come together in this little gem of a story. Joy Cowley provides the words while Gavin Bishop supplies the illustrations in this tale about two unusual friends. Snake and Lizard are like any friends – sometimes they fight, sometimes they tell each other jokes, sometimes they do things together and sometimes they want time on their own.

      The pair are helpers in the wild and many a creature visits them to ask for assistance for a variety of ailments. There’s the frog without a croak, who ends up as breakfast for one of the friends, and the coyote with a thorn in its foot. There is never a dull moment with these two on the job.

      … A true story of friendship and compromise. A really unique look at relationships with stunning illustrations. This would make an excellent read aloud story, perfect to read on a summer’s evening before bedtime.

    12. The School Magazine (Australia), September 2011

      Do you have one special friend, or a whole group of people that you’re friendly with? Snake and Lizard are best friends but, like a lot of friends, they’re very different. Sometimes they argue, and often they see things differently, but Snake and Lizard care for each other deeply.
      They run a helping business, Helper and Helper, and this collection of stories is all about their daily adventures with the other animals of the desert: Coyote, Porcupine, and various rats, rabbits and frogs.
      Be sure to slither along to a library or bookshop to spend more time with these delightful characters soon. Once you’ve met Snake and Lizard, you’ll count them among your friends!

    13. NZine.co.nz, January 2010

      I heartily endorse the age recommendation for Snake and Lizard at six plus and I believe that there should be no upper limit. Enthusiastic readers will certainly include most grandparents. The stories can be read with enjoyment at the children’s level – arguments between friends, experiences with which the children can readily identify. For adults the frequent echoes of adult conversation provide much entertainment.

      Snake and Lizard, two species expected to be foes, become friends when the wall separating their burrows collapses leaving them sharing one large burrow with two doorways. They set themselves up in a partnership in the helping profession but have frequent arguments. By various means at the end of each chapter they are still friends occupying the same burrow.

      In the chapter called The Hero the friends explored various clich‚s they could use in their funeral orations to glorify the sacrifice made by the rabbit which was being honoured by the animal community for having defied the monsters on the River of Death (vehicles on the road). The chapter ends, ‘ ‘He was an absolute idiot,’ Lizard said firmly. ‘They nodded in agreement and went back into the burrow to finish their breakfast.’ Other themes explore envy, credulity, hunger, fear, exaggeration and pride in ancestors – all in stories to be appreciated at two levels – pure narrative and adult enjoyment of echoes of typical human conversational patterns and ironic comment.

    14. Tomorrow’s Schools Today, December 2009

      Snake and Lizard are more than just friends, they are business partners, they are helpers. That means that they help other creatures living in the desert. Each chapter shows what is meant by an enduring friendship. They might disagree, have arguments, trick each other and be very different but they remain friends through everything. Even when one says something that brings bad memories or hurts the other, their friendship remains strong, and like all good friends they forgive each other.

      This book offers children good messages on what friendship means through highly entertaining stories. Each chapter contains a twist and is a story within a story. As the book progresses, some of the tricks they play on each other backfire and we see both main characters grow because of their friendship. Joy Cowley also shows that she has thought a lot about how animals might see the world, with roads described as rivers of death, and vehicles seen as weird monsters that eat humans. The small, yet detailed and colourful illustrations add to the story and help explain the story. It makes an entertaining and thought provoking book for those six and older.

    15. Storylines, November 2009

      These further stories about the incongruous friendship between Snake and Lizard are wonderful read-alouds. They will delight children and whoever has the joys of reading to them. Snake and Lizard, Helper and Helper, have many adventures as they try to understand human things; the River of Death with the four round legged monsters that travel on it; or ponder whether one can love something that one eats. Joy Cowley’s superb storytelling creates lovable characters while the illustrations by Gavin Bishop capture the delightful pair in their strange desert life.

    16. 50 Best Children’s Books of 2009, The Listener, December 2009

      Joy Cowley and Gavin Bishop are back with Friends, a worthy sequel to their Snake and Lizard, which won the 2008 NZ Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults Book of the Year. Cowley’s funny, touching stories develop a whole cast of memorable characters around the two central desert-dwellers, whose lively, occasionally testy friendship embodies a wealth of wisdom about how to live with other people. Bishop’s simple pictures are amazingly expressive.

    17. Kate De Goldi, Radio NZ, November 2009

      Beautifully written, the most fantastic sentence variation and rhythm, a fabulous vocabulary. Even though the stories are simple, they are never simplistic.

      There are some beautiful little relationship moments. They’re kind of nudging each other, colliding occasionally, they get huffy, but they come back together. It is a portrait of a marriage, or a long-term relationship.

      What started to happen in this book, which I thought was really interesting, is that humans are coming – and the chapter on ‘skin’ is great – so they’re constantly interpreting human intervention in the landscape in animalistic ways. There are so many touching little stories but there’s an overarching story about the humans coming to the landscape and how they’re going to deal with that.

      Tremendous. Some of the most beautiful artwork I’ve seen from Gavin Bishop. The colours are saturated and beautiful, the miniatures are fantastic… The illustrations and the text are working beautifully together, never repeating each other but enlarging each other. I think it’s a genius book – the writer and illustrator are at the top of their game.

    18. North & South, December 2009

      Bickering and misunderstandings, compromise and conciliation, fun and great adventure – sounds like the typical dynamic in any healthy long-term friendship. Author Joy Cowley based her 2007 awardwinning book Snake and Lizard on her relationship with husband Terry (he’s the snake; she’s the lizard) and this sequel about these two unlikely best friends retains the same engaging charm. Exuberant story-telling – a blue balloon is a ‘Sky Egg’ that hatches in a most terrifying fashion – is perfectly matched by Gavin Bishop’s colour illustrations. (‘Christmas Crackers’ feature)

    19. Story Time Books for Kids, November 2009

      Seventeen more stories about those unlikely friends, Snake and Lizard, from the pen of Joy Cowley with illustrations by Gavin Bishop. As in the first volume which won the New Zealand Post Book of the Year in 2008 there’s a great deal of philosophy and wisdom here in deceptively simple humorous stories about two creatures with very different outlooks and even values who nevertheless manage to put their friendship above their differences. Each has strengths, each has weaknesses, and they have similarities and differences which are cleverly emphasised in the illustrations which use the (mostly) muted palette of the desert in which they live. Warm, witty and wise and another wonderful book from Gecko Press..

    20. Around the Bookshops, November 2009

      They are so different in looks and views of life, but Snake and Lizard are the best of friends although they do argue and disagree sometimes. In this new book of 17 stories, they have set up their own business – Helper and Helper. The stories are full of wisdom and are enhanced by the subtle colourings in the many illustrations by Gavin Bishop.

    21. The Children’s Bookshop, Kilbirnie, October 2009

      Snake and Lizard run a helping business, Helper and Helper, in a new book of stories about their well-intentioned daily adventures. Everyone fell in love with this foolish, argumentative pair when their first book of stories won the 2008 NZ Post Book of the Year award. And they continue to entrance us as they meet a frog without a croak, speak at Ear Bent, the jack rabbit’s gathering, pull a thorn from a Coyote’s foot and come across humans in the desert. Snake’s self-centredness and Lizard’s exuberance can create some awkward moments but, through reasoning and compromise, they always manage to remain good friends. Delightful stories to read aloud to children aged 5 plus.

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