written and illustrated by Miriam Latimer
2014 (Owlkids Books)
Source: Orange County Public Library
Florence was a newbie to her neighborhood. The best part of the move was that the house was located next to a zoo. When she waved out her window, a friendly panda waved back. The mood changed when a letter came from Florence's new teacher. Miss Brook seemed plenty friendly, but having to stand up and talk in front of her new class was not exciting to Florence. She wondered if she would make any friends. How to quell her fears? Write a letter to the friendly panda out her window. Of course! After exchanging letters, Flo and Panda met outside her door. Both friends liked climbing, swimming, and hide and seek. Hula hooping was not Panda's strong suit. With Panda in tow as her friend, Florence confided that she was very nervous about starting in her new school. Panda felt like he could help her make human friends and sure enough, panda power saves the day.
My student friends in kindergarten loved this book! It is adorable with a universal message about connecting with others. The illustrations are a big draw (pun intended) with this book. It would also make a great bedtime story. If you teach a unit on friendship, find Dear Panda and add it to your unit.