"Soft pastel colors match the meditative tone of the spare yet poignant text. This tender, sensitive story speaks to the pain of losing a friendship, validating sadness but emphasizing that there is a way ahead. Perceptively, Underwood recognizes, too, that not all friendships end with fights or drama and that drifting apart slowly can feel just as raw. A gentle story of friendships lost and gained and life moving on."
– Kirkus Reviews, *STARRED REVIEW*, 07/01/2022
"Underwood’s story sensitively presents a common childhood occurrence, as evident in the title’s past tense: the disintegration of a friendship. The book’s pacing is superb and lets the story breathe.... The way Ruzzier captures the changing emotions on Walter’s face and the space the story gives to his time of “sad quiet” are honest and respectful to the interior lives of children.... Emotionally rewarding and cathartic."
– Horn Book Reviews, 9/1/2022
"The basic pathway of this emotionally significant story by Underwood (Every Little Letter) will be familiar to anyone who has loved, and lost, a dear companion.... Ruzzier (No! Said Custard the Squirrel) creates a warm-hued landscape in which appealing animal characters experiencing recognizable emotions move among delightfully strange natural wonders.... The creators paint a realistic portrait of painful change and a hopeful vision of moving on."
– Publishers Weekly, *STARRED REVIEW*, 8/15/2022
"Ruzzier’s characteristic muted hues and fuzzy, mottled textures emphasize the narrative’s gentle tone, and the animals have a toy-like appeal. Share this with youngsters negotiating the shifting tides of preschool and kindergarten dynamics."
– The Bulletin, 9/1/2022
"Sparely detailed art and minimal text sharpen the poignancy of this take on the theme of 'watching once-close friends drift away.'... The focus is clearly on the shifts in Walter’s emotional landscape, and both Underwood and Ruzzier shed perceptive light on that."
– Booklist, 10/1/2022
"This deceptively simple picture book explores the emotions we feel when friendships end....Underwood’s spare text provides ample space for illustrator Sergio Ruzzier’s surreal, otherworldly landscapes and bright pastel color palette. Ruzzier depicts the impact of Walter’s loss in approachable, moving images.... The book’s gentle pace, engaging artwork and lyrical yet straightforward text make this a comforting, reassuring read for young readers experiencing transitions at school or with friends. Walter Had a Best Friend is a gem."
– BookPage, 11/1/2022
"An excellent book for a simple read-aloud in a primary setting or as an independent choice for a beginning reader. Some friendships do not last forever, it is okay to fly solo, and new friendships come when you least expect them; these are comforting and relatable lessons for any child struggling with loss or change."
– School Library Journal, 9/30/2022