CM . . .
. Volume XXII Number 1. . . .September 4, 2015
Nut and Bolt.
Nicole de Cock. Translated by Margriet Ruurs.
Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2015.
32 pp., hardcover & Web PDF, $18.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55455-364-8 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-55455-784-4 (web PDF).
Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 3-6.
Review by Amber Allen.
Nut does a lot for Bolt:
she thinks of games to play,
brushes his teeth,
and provides shade on hot days, because…
real friends would do anything for each other.
Nicole de Cock’s Nut and Bolt is an exploration of the friendship of the two titular characters. Nut, a mouse, does many things to support, comfort, and care for her best friend Bolt, the donkey. From combing his hair to knitting him warm winter scarves, she runs the gamut of assistance because – as the book repeats over and over – “real friends would do anything for each other.”
The focus of the whole story is what Nut does for Bolt, but it ends on the open-ended question of what Bolt does for his friend in return. A single image of Nut asleep in Bolt’s ear, without accompanying text, is the confusing response. It may mean that Bolt doesn’t have to do anything in return as friendship doesn’t keep track of favours owed. Or, it could mean that Bolt does all the same for his friend. Either way, it feels a bit obtuse for a book aimed at the preschool set. I would also argue that the reiterated refrain that “real friends would do anything for each other” is repeated too often, making it feel a bit long and taking away a sense of excitement or novelty. Not to mention that it is a complicated assertion that would require discussion.
Nonetheless, Nut and Bolt is a very cute book with gorgeous images. Ruurs’ depictions of the best friends are beautiful in their simplicity. The pages are not saturated in colour, and yet the drawings grab and hold attention, adding both depth and humour to the text. I especially appreciated the picture of Nut keeping Bolt dry - a single mouse-sized umbrella hoisted above the donkey’s head. It is a moving illustration of Nut’s commitment to his friend, but it is also a very funny picture.
Children will definitely enjoy the interaction between the unlikely friends while caregivers can open up a meaningful conversation about friendship and how we show others that we care about them.
Amber Allen is a librarian in Toronto, ON, with a passion for children’s literature and writing.
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