B.D. McClay at Lapham’s Quarterly:
Still, where friendship operates as a code, it is still present as text. These stories are still “about” friendship, after all, and so friendship steadily accrues these myths along with whatever it’s meant to insinuate. And because friendship begins to seem like an off road into an alternate adulthood—or no adulthood at all—the friendship plot’s most congenial home is children’s literature, followed by books that concern themselves with childhood. Read through the lens of the friendship plot, many books that either are childhood classics or focus on childhood reveal themselves as stories that portray the end of childhood and initiation into adulthood as the death or abandonment of a beloved friend.
Sometimes this friend isn’t human. A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh stories end with the disappearance of Christopher Robin, The Velveteen Rabbit with the rabbit and his boy parting ways after the boy almost dies of scarlet fever and his childhood is—quite literally—consumed by flame.