cover image Hands Off, Harry!

Hands Off, Harry!

Rosemary Wells. HarperCollins/Tegen, $14.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-192112-4

This first book in the Kindergators series, which tackles socialization issues, focuses on a familiar figure: the kid who has personal space issues. Harry pokes, pushes, and tackles; he startles one classmate so badly that the victim spills poster paints all over his new clothes (and to add insult to injury, "Benjamin's cubby outfit didn't fit anymore"). Despite repeated admonitions from the firm yet supportive Miss Harmony, Harry seems like a lost cause%E2%80%94until his peers call an "emergency session" of circle time and devise a clever yet compassionate way to teach Harry how to keep a more civil distance. Wells (the Max and Ruby books) takes her time solving the problem that is Harry, and her approach may initially strike some readers as slow and pedantic. But step-by-step, she builds a sense of drama while showing that she knows kindergarten inside and out. Kids will appreciate her faith in their inventiveness and sense of community%E2%80%94and they'll also enjoy the genial, neatly framed collaged images, which use textured materials to convey the alligators' bumpy skin and vibrant wardrobe. Ages 3%E2%80%936. (July)