CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number 1. . . .September 9, 2016
Friendship comes in many forms, but the bond between the very young and the elderly has a unique feeling. It’s the focus of this picture book about Harry, “four and three-quarters” and his next door neighbour, Walter, “ninety-two and a half.” They play together every day through the seasons, outdoors and indoors. One activity, making folded-paper birds, proves challenging for Harry, but Walter encourages him to persist. When Harry’s family has to move, both friends are crushed. Change hits Harry hard. Nothing is as much fun in his new house, until, with perseverance and a little time, he finds success with the favourite activity he shared with Walter: paper folding. It leads to a satisfying reunion and the realization that “some things don’t change.”
These two characters come to life in the simple straightforward language and dialogue, the everyday activities that will resonate with young readers, and the natural growth of both of them. The story will appeal to all ages: the youngest listener who will relate to the fun things these friends do, older readers who have a cherished relationship with an elderly relative or neighbour, and adults who will see the value and charm of this intergenerational friendship. Harry gives Walter the excuse to act like a kid again, and one can easily imagine him recalling his own childhood. Walter gives Harry support while he learns new skills and experiences the ultimate test of growing up: understanding that change will be a big part of his life. The book has a happy and hopeful tone, even though Harry has to deal with unfavourable comparisons between his old life and the new one without Walter. The author has built such a solid foundation for their friendship that readers will be confident that it will endure, and eventually that Harry will find a resolution to his problem. When that happens, readers will feel the love as “Harry….hugged Walter so hard they almost fell over.”
Gillian Richardson is a freelance writer living in BC.
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