Harry and Walter by Kathy Stinson and illustrated by Qin Leng
This is a warm-hearted picture book about the friendship between a young boy, Harry, and his elderly next-door neighbor, Walter. The two enjoy each other’s company, playing games, working in Walter’s garden in the summer, raking leaves in the fall, building snowmen in the winter. Walter learns about the power of imagination from Harry and Walter teaches Harry much about life. Then Harry’s family moves and he is heart-broken that Walter will no longer be his neighbor. Walter consoles him, knowing that life presents us with many changes as time goes on. The story has a happy ending when Walter, due to his advanced age, moves from his house to an apartment just down the street from Harry’s new home and the two resume their friendship, spending time together again. The cheerful and lively illustrations add to the happy and light tone of the story. I liked this book because I believe that relationships between young children and older adults are so important and special. Children can learn so much from the elderly and having a loving relationship with a child can help an older person feel young again and have a reason to live and be hopeful. Such a relationship also gives children a connection to the past and allows them to learn from the wisdom gained over a lifetime by the elderly, making the children fuller, richer people as they grow up, I believe.