cover image Harriet, You'll Drive Me Wild!

Harriet, You'll Drive Me Wild!

Mem Fox, Marla Frazee. Harcourt Children's Books, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-201977-8

Harriet is what grown-ups refer to as a handful. Through the course of a day, the youngster, perhaps accidentally, knocks over her juice, drips paint from her picture onto the carpet and slides off her chair at lunchtime, taking the tablecloth with her. Her mother, who ""didn't like to yell,"" handles each incident with good-humored restraint: ""Harriet, my darling child. Harriet, you'll drive me wild. Harriet, sweetheart, what are we to do?"" But at naptime, Harriet gets on her mother's last nerve when she intentionally rips open a feather pillow: ""Then Harriet's mother began to yell./ She yelled and yelled and yelled."" It's a situation that may well ring true for every family, and Fox (Sleepy Bears), in a rhythm well known to her fans, resolves it with good sense and warmth (mother and daughter apologize to each other, share a giggle and embark on clean-up together). Visually, the book never strikes a false note: Frazee's (The Seven Silly Eaters) handsome domestic vignettes, framed by generous white space, are realistic and reassuring. All this authenticity, however, adds up to something less than compelling--the book ultimately feels more like a parenting article than something children will clamor to hear and see again. Ages 3-7. (Apr.)