cover image Harry & Hopper

Harry & Hopper

Margaret Wild, illus. by Freya Blackwood, Feiwel and Friends, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-312-64261-7

Redheaded Harry and his spotted dog, Hopper, are constant companions, accomplices ("As Hopper grew older... Harry helped him run away from his weekly bath"), and bedmates. The dog's sudden death (an accident that happens while Harry is at school), leaves the boy devastated; refusing to join his father at Hopper's backyard funeral, Harry "stared at the [TV] screen but the words and pictures didn't make sense, and he couldn't follow what was going on." But gradually, Harry finds that Hopper lives on his heart, and in the final, wordless scene, rendered from a vantage point far above the backyard, readers see Harry visiting his beloved pet's grave. Wild's (Puffling) understated, empathic prose offers both a voice for a child unable to articulate his grief and the reassurance that those we love never really disappear. Blackwood's (Ivy Loves to Give) predominantly charcoal drawings are equally eloquent, particularly in her use of texture to capture the emotional essence of good and sad times. These days, her gift for portraying children navigating the turbulence of life feels especially necessary. Up to age 5. (Jan.)