________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 1. . . .September 9, 2016


Harry and Walter.

Kathy Stinson. Illustrated by Qin Leng.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 2016.
60 pp., pbk., hc., epub & pdf, $9.95 (pbk.), $21.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55451-801-2 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55451-802-9 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-55451-803-6 (epub), ISBN 978-1-55451-804-3 (pdf).

Review by Gillian Richardson.

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.

**** /4



One day, when it wasn’t too cold for young boys and old men, Harry and Walter made a snowman.

“Walter,” Harry said, “you’re my best friend.”

“You’re my best friend too, Harry.”

“Let’s be friends till I’m as old as you, okay?”

Walter rubbed his chin, thinking. Then he said, “I’d like that, Harry. I’d like that very much.”

When spring came all the snow melted and so did the snowman. Someone hammered a sign into the grass in front of Harry’s house. For Sale the sign said.

Walter frowned and Harry cried. “I don’t want to move!”

“Things change,” Walter said. “I might have to move someday too.”

The day the moving van came Harry and Walter were so sad they couldn’t even say good-bye.


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.”

      Illustrator Qin Leng has created exactly the right style in her watercoloor and ink sketches. The energy of the animated characters is often captured by showing the colourful settings from overhead. Harry’s new tree house is the perfect setting to allow the first successful flight of his paper birds.

      Enjoy Harry and Walter as a delightful read-aloud, and, as children go through the inevitable changes in their young lives, it will be a good one to return to often to reaffirm its messages.

Highly Recommended.

Gillian Richardson is a freelance writer living in BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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