The storm rushed, and howled, and splashed, and blew at the tiny tree, the little pond and the lonely leaf.
When it finally stopped, the lonely leaf was safe.
When a single caterpillar egg and a single frog egg survive a storm, an unlikely friendship is formed. When Harold the tadpole and Grace the caterpillar hatch from their eggs, they meet and, in spite of their obvious differences, become best friends. In the pond, Harold is teased by the fish who see that he is not the same as them. In the tree, Grace is shunned by the other insects because she is not the same as them. But they lend each other support.
Eventually, though, Harold gets busy in the pond and forgets about Grace for a while. When he returns to see her, she is not there. Instead, there is a cocoon. Distraught, he uses the cocoon as a pillow, until one day a butterfly emerges and the pair are, after a brief misunderstanding, reunited.
Harold and Grace is a warm, funny tribute to friendship and diversity, which also explores the life cycles of frogs and butterflies, paralleled with the ebbs and flows of friendships. The illustrations use black ink and digital colours, with a palette rich in greens and purples, in natural tones that reflect the outdoor setting of the story. The whimsy of the characters and their surrounds is delightful, and the design of the book, in a smallish square hard cover with a felted embellishment, is adorable.
A beautiful offering.
Harold and Grace, by Sean E. Avery
Fremantle Press, 2015
Available from good bookstores and online.