A story always has two sides and the two sides of this story feature best friends, Lula and Lenka. The girls have been friends for as long as they can remember and whilst they have different interests, they both agree that being different helps you to see things in a new way. Lenka likes to be quiet,; she enjoys the heat of summer and everything to be neat and tidy. Luna is a chatterbox; she likes the cool of winter and enjoys making a mess. On the outside, Lula and Lenka appear to be total opposites, but they both appreciate and understand each other, just as best friends should.
However, relationships are sometimes tested and a forgotten pencil-case proves to be the undoing of the girls perfect friendship. Lenka and Luna fall out, get mad with each other and then find it too hard to say the words, “I’m sorry’. Lenka thinks Luna doesn’t care and Luna is shocked that Lenka could be so unkind. Can both girls really be wrong? Or are they both right? The story has two sides, but Lenka and Luna are too hurt to try to understand each other. Instead they chose not to be friends anymore. At first, the girls ignore each other, both so hurt they convince themselves that they really are too different to be friends. Secretly, the girls don’t want to admit that they really miss each other’s company.
Day after day the girls hold firm to the ‘no friendship’ agreement, despite their loneliness and growing sadness. It isn’t until Luna & Lenka spot the beginnings of a playground argument amongst other girls at school that they are finally drawn to a reconciliation with each other. Luna and Lenka can both see how silly it is to argue over ‘things’, they both agree that friendships are much more important. Finally, Luna & Lenka recognise their own mistake and how silly they have been. The loneliness fades and they remember that being together is what matters most.
‘Two Sides’ is a story written from the first person perspective of two characters. It is a story that readers will instantly identify with, enabling them to explore feelings from both sides. It is a wonderful book to share with children who are experiencing friendship difficulties, to enable them to see that there are two sides to every situation, in order to aid understanding and reconciliation.
Polly Ho-Yen has created a brilliantly clever story which is simply told, making it easily accessible to younger or less confident readers. Binny Talib’s gorgeous colour illustrations work side by side with the text, aiding the story telling, helping the reader to further infer and engage with character feelings and emotion.
This powerful, empathy building text should be on every learning mentor’s shelf, but it could be used in the classroom as inspiration to teach and write about character feelings and perspectives.
Explore character emotions. Expand the use of vocabulary used to describe when a character feels happy (cheerful, glad, joyful) or sad (heartbroken, glum, forlorn) etc.
The class could be split in two, each half could write from the perspective of one of the two characters.
Write creatively about another situation where there were two sides to the story.
Look at the work of the Empathy Lab
BBC Bitesize have a video on seeing both sides of the story with some classroom role play activities.
Two Sides by Polly Ho-Yen and Binny Talib
Stripes ISBN: 978-1788950626