cover image 13 Stories About Harris

13 Stories About Harris

Amy Schwartz. Holiday House, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8234-4249-2

Through 13 vignettes set in an urban neighborhood, Schwartz (Busy Babies) introduces readers to Harris, a blond, curly-haired preschooler leading what appears to be a charmed childhood. Many of the collection’s flash-fiction-like chapters end with wondrous discoveries: in one, Harris babysits a hamster named Stanley and later finds six tiny pink babies in the cage; in another, Harris and his mother shake a jar of cream until it turns to butter. And in the book’s shortest story, the child’s mother stands before a wall covered in colorful scribbles: “That’s why they call permanent markers permanent,” she says. Harris’s playfulness is a constant, as when he draws a chalk line so long it leads him back home, but at the heart of the book is his purehearted friendship with brown-skinned friend Ayana, which culminates in an ending tribute to the pair’s affection for one another. If gender roles feel a touch outdated (it’s Harris’s mother’s shopping list that blows away when the family walks together), Schwartz’s simple, straightforward diction maps precisely to her delicate line drawings to create nostalgic snapshots that demonstrate the way magic can be found in the mundane. Ages 4–8. [em](July) [/em]