Yo! Yes? – a monument to the beginnings of friendship

imagesA young stylish African-American extrovert and a shy over-dressed white kid meet.  Will they make friends?

Raschka, Chris (1998)  Yo! Yes?  Orchard Books  ISBN 0-531- 05469-1 32pp. $13.76  Formats:  Hardcover  Paperback  Library Binding  Audible AudioBook  Reading Level / Grade Level Equivalent: 1.2  Interest Level: PreK – K  Genre: Read-Aloud Books  Major Themes: African-Americans, Brotherhood, Embracing Diversity, Friendship
Two very different boys meet.  One is a happy-go-lucky African-American extrovert with big expressions and pumped up kicks. The other is uncertain and shy.  Perseverance, trust and a big decision lie ahead. “Yo! Yes?” is a story that celebrates how friendships are formed.

StorytimeWow_FinalLogo-1Yo! Yes? was given the StorytimeWOW Marquee Seal on March 19th, 2015.  This book meets the StorytimeWOW Standards and has been selected for the PictureBookWOW collection.  Read the Storytime section below for tips on using this picture book in your storytime.

Review:  Yo! Yes? is a classic read aloud and a monument to the beginnings of friendship.
A strong story, bold illustrations and an inherent rhythm emerge from its pages and combine to create a highly engaging read aloud experience. With poetry and watercolors, this book brilliantly portrays one of the first social challenges all humans face. The story shows the emotional journey each boy takes to making a friend. These characters embrace their differences, find brotherhood, and emerge as shining role models for kids (and adults).


Storytime:  The back and forth conversation across page spreads of “Yo! Yes?” creates a rhythm and invites listeners to participate by echoing the reader.  Also, its energetic and emotionally expressive illustrations are fun to mimic.  The read aloud is great for groups.

Performance Tips:

  • Take thirty seconds to read, digest and practice this very short book. You want to nail the appropriate emotion on each page.
  • Project each boy’s emotion with every beat.
  • Turn this book into an echo game by encouraging your listener’s natural impulse to repeat the short poetry on every page.
  • Create a funky rhythmic musical track to play underneath the story especially for storytime. I bring my smart phone and speakers to the classroom, connect them via bluetooth, press play and let the fun begin.

Bibliotherapeutic Usefulness:  “Yo! Yes?” may be used to help any child befriend another child. The book also illustrates human differences and looks beyond them to find the natural brotherhood that exists between two young boys. The characters are two unique children with observable differences in skin color, style of dress, and personality.

Significance:  One of the book’s two heroes is a happy extroverted African-American hero who initiates the friendship. This boy is an especially good role model for all kids.

Read-alikes:  Chris Raschka received Caldecott Medals for Hello, Goodbye Window (2006) and A Ball for Daisy (2012). Chris also wrote and illustrated Charlie Parker Played Be Bop (1997), an introduction to the great saxophone player and composer Charlie ParkerThe Name Jar (2003) by Yangsook Choi and I Hate English (1995) by Ellen Levine are great books to pair with Yo! Yes?.  All three books present opportunities to discuss meeting new children, making friends, and embracing diversity.

Links:  Scholastic   teachers.net lesson ideas   Amazon.com

Awards:  Raschka received the Caldecott Honor (1994) for writing and illustrating Yo! Yes?

Other Reviews:  Goodreads   Kirkus 

I chose this book because friendship and brotherhood are themes I want to infuse in my storytime programming.  I am also currently reviewing Caldecott winners and honorees appropriate for storytime.

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Written by Tom Schween, founder of storytimeWOW!  Posts include links to Amazon.com where you may purchase the materials presented. Use your local library to check out books for free.