Medford, New York children’s author Diane Giurco has written a fanciful story for children ages 4 and up, published by AuthorHouse and cutely and colourfully illustrated by Diane’s husband Mario Giurco, called The Adventures of Willy & Nilly.
Willy and Nilly are a brother and sister who live on a farm with their Momma and Poppa in Ol’Kalucky, Kentucky. Willy and Nilly have a dog named Quilly, a cat named Milly, a goat named Billy and a big old cow named Lillie. Inspired by Giurco’s own great love for animals, The Adventures of Willy & Nilly teaches children about kindness, responsibility, patience and general knowledge about the care of kittens.
One day, Willy and Nilly embark on a hike in the woods – without any adult supervision which seems a bit suspicious in these times and perhaps doesn’t set a very good example for children – toting their picnic basket. They look for the perfect place to lay their blanket and set up their picnic site for lunch and then Willy decides he’s going to climb a tree, only to end up getting stung by bees! Fortunately, Nilly read a book about American Indians that taught her what to do if you get stung by a bee and she packs Willy’s hands with mud.
A sudden thunder storm drives Willy and Nilly into an abandoned fort where they find a litter of kittens but no mommy cat. They decide to go to their Aunt Tilly’s house to ask her what to do about them because she has eight cats of her own. Aunt Tilly gives the children some sound advice about what the kittens will need and all Willy and Nilly have to do is convince their parents to let them keep them!
They ran over to an old abandoned fort and they went inside. “We’ll stay here until the rain stops,” said Nilly. “What will we do in here?” asked Willy. “We can sing songs or play a game”. “I don’t like it in here, I want to go home.” Nilly said, “Shhhhhhhhh, wait!” I hear something “I hear it too, what is it?” said Willy.
“Oh, look over there in the corner, it’s a litter of kittens!” said Nilly. “One…two…three… four…five!” counted Willy. “Where is the mommy cat?” asked Willy. “I don’t know,” replied Nilly. “I am going to pick one up,” said Willy. “No!” exclaimed Nilly. “First I will have to see if they are friendly.” Nilly slowly approached the kittens. Once she got close to them they all ran over to her and started weaving in and out around her shoes. After the kittens all started to rub their little faces on her and were purring loudly, she knew they were friendly.
My niece Erika and nephew Ethan really enjoyed this story and being the animal lovers they are, their favourite part was when Willy and Nilly found the kittens. They would love nothing more than to be able to have a kitten but unfortunately, my sister is allergic to them, so instead they have a dog, two turtles, a hermit crab, two beta fish, two gerbils, two tree frogs, and a green anole and I keep two rats for them. There comes a time when it’s just not realistic and there’s not enough space to keep any more pets! Willy and Nilly are afraid their parents are going to think the same thing.
This is a sweet story if not a little unrealistic…in fact, it’s more like a fairy tale in that two young children are allowed to play alone together in the woods far from home and everything ends very happily with the two of them blowing bubbles on their porch. This is definitely what life should be like for children and there was a time when we lived like this. When I was a child (in the late 60’s and early 70’s), I played in the woods about a mile from my parents’ house, and they never worried about us. Sadly, we don’t live in that world any more. But for just a few moments while reading Diane Giurco’s book, we can remember what it was like when we could! And you know what, it was magical!