Zonderkidz is pleased to announce that actress and mental health advocate Taraji P. Henson, will release her debut picture book, titled You Can Be a Good Friend (No Matter What!) on June 18, 2024, illustrated by Paul Kellam.

You Can Be a Good Friend (No Matter What!)
You Can Be a Good Friend (No Matter What!)

Pre-orders can be made now anywhere books are sold.

Henson, who established a foundation supporting mental health programming in under-resourced areas around the U.S., is an unwavering advocate for speaking up about good mental health practices – and this book ties into her commitment.

In an exclusive statement to People.com today about her passion for the book, Henson said:

“Mental health struggles can start even in childhood and oftentimes it begins with being bullied. This book isn’t just about bullying though—it’s about how children all have something different about them, and being different is what makes them oh so very special.” Henson added, “You Can Be a Good Friend (No Matter What!) is for the kids who feel different. This book is for the parents who want their kids to accept differences. And this book is for the kids and families who’ve encountered hard times because of differences. I can’t wait to see the many conversations my book starts in homes and classrooms everywhere!”

The story opens with a young girl named Lil TJ getting ready for her first day of school and telling her Grandma Patsy about making new friends. “Don’t forget, friendships take time,” Grandma reminds her, but Lil TJ throws herself into school with gusto and immediately attracts the bullying attention of a boy who makes fun of her for her loud voice, colorful drawings, and larger-than-life personality. TJ ultimately learns how to conquer her worries, overcome her bully, make new and unexpected friendships, and still be true to her own unique and wonderful self.

“We are so proud of this book and feel that it’s not just a fun story, but an essential tool for teaching empathy, resilience, and self-love … all values that are very important to Taraji and her work in the mental health space,” said Megan Dobson, Vice President and Publisher of Zonderkidz. “Our hope is that this will become a conversation starter about mental wellness, an important lesson in friendship and handling tough social situations, and a testament to the importance of standing proud in one’s own uniqueness.”

This is a one-book deal, acquired by Katherine Jacobs, Senior Acquisitions Editor for Zonderkidz, with CAA representing Henson. The illustrator is Paul Kellam, an award-winning digital creator based in Florida, represented by Robbin Brosterman at The Bright Agency.

Henson will celebrate the upcoming publication of You Can Be a Good Friend (No Matter What!) at a TalkShopLive pre-sale virtual event LIVE at 6:00pm EST on Friday, February 16. She will share more about the book and her passion for this story. Attendees who purchase a copy of the book during the TalkShopLive event will receive a signed copy. For more information, click here.

The book is now available for pre-order anywhere books are sold.

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