Oh, Harry!

Maxine Kumin, illus. by Barry Moser. Roaring Brook/Porter, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-59643-439-4
Harry the horse is not a looker ("His ears were long and his neck was short"), he's mischievous and dexterous, and he has a knack for calming the show horses that share the barn with him. All runs smoothly until Algernon Adams the Third, "at the age of six,/ Arrived with his bag of horrendous tricks." The boy sasses the trainer and spooks the horses before getting himself trapped in a grain bin, which Harry (eventually) unlocks, bringing about a turnaround in Algernon's behavior. Mixing naturalism, anthropomorphism, and slapstick comedy, this story, like Harry, is a bit unusual itself. Kumin's (Mites to Mastodons) verse has a variable cadence, and in places the language seems forced for the sake of the rhyme ("He climbed to the hayloft with an umbrella/ Till the trainer ordered, ‘Get down young fella!' "). Moser's (Once Upon a Twice) watercolors imbue Harry with plenty of attitude, playing up his homeliness in unflattering "camera" angles, and even having him pull faces for readers, to garish but humorous effect—when Harry "smile[s] a smile" after Algernon gets trapped, it ain't pretty. Ages 4–8. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/18/2011
Release date: 06/01/2011
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