With gentle ease and touches of whimsy, this book helps children see-saw back and forth between solitude and friendship. That's a valuable skill for anyone any time, at any age, but more so than usual as we make our way haltingly back from the extra alone time dished out to us by the pandemic.

One by one, the book unfolds scenarios in which it's nice to be alone. For each it asks: What happens then if a friend shows up?

The emphasis, alone and with company, is on pure enjoyment. Reading alone can be nice, when "the only sound in the world is the whispery sound of you turning pages." But if a friend stops by, "there you are ... reading your book with a friend."

Author Amy Hest is a three-times winner of the prestigious Christopher Award affirming the highest values of the human spirit, which shine through here as in her other books. Philip Stead's illustrations enhance her soothing rhythm of quiet and friendship with playfulness. He shows, for instance, the child spinning around in a pile of leaves with her toy dinosaur nearby; then the friend who "comes crunching by" is an enormous friendly dinosaur, rake in his mouth, scattering leaves while the child dances on his snout.

The suggested reading age is four to eight years old, but a younger child could fall in love with this story being read to them. It winds down toward a calming picture of the child wrapped in a blanket, gazing out the window at falling snow, and now it's "just you, alone, in your warm-as-toast bed on a cold winter night, the tip of your nose on the window." What a lovely reminder of the sense of sufficiency and beauty that ideally accompany solitude!