In Harold & Walnut, two best friends, very spry Highland cattle, wreak havoc as they have fun around the farm. Whimsical and funny, the story relates their afternoon frolic.
Harold and Walnut have a blast getting into trouble together. They rip clothes from the washing line and break into the kitchen to steal freshly baked bread—and each time that they’re caught by their keeper RaRa, they share a little dance. Although scolded by RaRa throughout their busy day, they never actually learn not to eat RaRa’s crops and destroy her things, but it’s of no matter. By day’s end, RaRa looks on lovingly as the two sleep soundly, feeling proud of her animal charges.
The illustrations in this picture book are colorful and energetic, easily conveying a sense of motion and play. Indeed, the cattle, with their fringed bangs and fuzzy coats, look like lovable troublemakers as they trample flowers and kick up their heels.
The book would be more valuable, however—and hold up better to multiple readings—if the friends actually learned a lesson about when to play games and when to be responsible. The main message conveyed here doesn’t concern the need for these troublemakers to repent; rather, it celebrates RaRa’s unconditional love despite her growing exasperation.
The story is presented in rhyme, but the metering can feel off within and between stanzas, making it difficult to read aloud. For example, the author writes: “They went to the vege garden/And ate all the corn./RaRa was cross/And chased them across the lawn.”
Greater polish to the rhyme scheme and a clearer message of responsibility to make the story more meaningful would benefit Harold & Walnut. That said, the friends are a fun pair, and children will enjoy witnessing their misadventures.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.