Harold Snipperpot’s Best Disaster Ever

Beatrice Alemagna, trans. from the French by Edward Gauvin. HarperCollins, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-06-249882-3
Harold’s “grumpy” parents don’t like parties or shows of affection, and he knows there’s no chance he’ll have a birthday celebration this year. He’s so depressed that his mother appeals to Mr. Ponzio, the neighborhood fixer, who has poufy hair and a bristly mustache. “Don’t worry one bit, Mrs. Snipperpot,” he says, and he appears at their doorstep on the party day with a menagerie of animal guests. Things go well until the beasts start “behaving... like animals,” tearing the house to pieces and leaving piles of poo behind. When a stampede moves the party outside, Harold takes charge and relief thaws his parents’ icy hauteur. They kiss—“a giant passionate one, just like in a movie”—then smooch Harold, leading to a more loving birthday than Harold dared hope for. Nuanced, wonderfully observant mixed-media artwork by Alemagna (On a Magical Do-Nothing Day) gives this story its magic. Harold’s mother curls a nervous foot tensely around the other when phoning Mr. Ponzio. A massive rhino rear end seen trailing up the stairs offers a stately contrast to the floor’s delicate design. And an animalian mess in greens and mauves offers a satisfying bridge from the story’s prim beginnings to its warm, familial end. Ages 4–8. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 11/05/2018
Release date: 02/01/2019
Genre: Children's
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