‘Are We Nuts?!!’ Wally Walnut returns

Posted 6/14/22

RF woman pens third children’s book By Sarah Nigbor RIVER FALLS – As author Jean M. Campbell talks about her latest Wally Walnut book, her face glows and her eyes are bright. She wants children to …

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‘Are We Nuts?!!’ Wally Walnut returns


RF woman pens third children’s book

By Sarah Nigbor

RIVER FALLS – As author Jean M. Campbell talks about her latest Wally Walnut book, her face glows and her eyes are bright. She wants children to know that they’re special and that we can all get along, even if we’re different in some ways. “Are We Nuts?!!?, a children’s book featuring character Wally Walnut and his friends in the forest, is available for purchase at Barnes & Noble and on Amazon. “The nuts all live in the woods together, but no one is getting along because they are different sizes and colors, shapes, everything,” Camp – bell said. “Wally brings them all together and they realize they’re just having fun. If we all have this in common, why can’t we get along?”

The message is especially fitting for this day and age, when the country is so polarized. “That’s exactly why I did it,” Camp- bell said. “We can find a common ground and just be kind and understanding.” Campbell published her first Wally Walnut book in 1996, called “The Adventures of Wally Walnut.” She had no writing background, but made up her mind she wanted to publish a children’s book. Her daughter gave her the idea to write about a walnut, almost in gest, but it turned out to be a great idea. “A walnut is special inside, so what a message for the kids,” Campbell said. “To tell them they are special inside.”

With no writing background, you’d think putting pen to paper might have been a bit difficult for Campbell. That wasn’t the case, she said. After her daughter suggested the theme, she went right home and wrote the en – tire manuscript in one sitting.

She wrote her second book, “Wally Walnut’s Journey to the Forest,” in 2001. “I’ve listened to other authors and I’ve heard the same thing from them,” Campbell said. “You just have it in your mind and it just clicks.” The Pepin High School graduate, who has lived in River Falls for 50 years, had her first two books printed at Helmer Printing in Beldenville. Her husband’s 3M colleague illustrated them and she was thrilled with the finished product. “I sold about 3,000 books,” Campbell said. “I was shocked at that.”

She used to visit local schools and sell the autographed copies for $5 a book. One child even brought in a bag of quarters to buy a book, which always stuck with her. “I would read to them and show them how the books were put together,” Campbell said. “Some of the kids said that they want to write a book now and express themselves. Some – times the teachers tell them what to write about. But maybe they want to say what they want to say.”

Campbell treasures the feedback she’s received over the years from parents about how her books have helped kids and opened the door to heartfelt conversations. One dad learned his daughter didn’t think she was special and needed reassurance; another parent said Wally Walnut helped her child get over her fear of the dark. Another unresponsive special education student began communicating and reading books after meeting Campbell and Wally Walnut. “The main thing is that it makes me feel so good that they accept it,” Campbell said. “I don’t want to preach to them. I just want them to get that feeling that they really count, to make kids feel good about themselves.”

After the first two books, she wasn’t going to write anymore. She actually wrote this third manuscript five years ago, but put it away. But last fall, she became sick and decided to dust it off. A publisher in New Hampshire picked it up and connected Campbell with an illustrator. Campbell’s husband Dean and children have been supportive of her writing journey over the years. In fact, Dean has typed her manuscripts after she pens them. Are more books in her future? She doesn’t believe so, but that could change. “I know now to never say never, but I think this will be my last book,” she smiled.