Book: Harriet Can Carry It
Author: Kirk Jay Mueller
Illustrator: Sarah Vonthron-Laver
Age Range: 4-8
Harriet Can Carry It, by Kirk Jay Mueller and Sarah Vonthron-Laver, is the story of a hard-working kangaroo mom whose attempt to take a day off to relax with her son is derailed by other animals. All Harriet wants to do is take her Joey, with some towels and the boy's favorite toy, to the beach. But she meets a series of pushy animals along the way, all expecting Harriet to carry their gear in her pouch. Eventually, they push poor Harriet too far, and she gives up. Fortunately another solution is found by the others, and Harriet and her Joey get their time alone).
Mueller's text is mostly in rhyming couplets, with the notable exception of Harriet's attempts to protest, which are always cut off. Like this:
"It was old Wanda Wombat, so nosey and grouchy,
Asking, "That a beach towel hanging out of your pouchy?
Can I come to the beach? Can I come with YOU?
Will you carry my beach chair? Can I please come too?"
"W-e-l-l," Harriet hesitated.
"I don't know--"
"Of course I can," answered the pushy Wombat
"You have lots of room. You have loads of space
For tons of stuff in your big pouchy place.
The sun is so bright. The ocean's so blue.
YOU CAN CARRY IT, HARRIET, so I can come too.""
This text is repeated, with minor variations (different types of animals, different types of gear, different adjectives for the pushy Wombat), throughout the book. The animals are all Australian natives, mostly marsupials, as is explained in a handy "Animal Facts" glossary at the end of the book. I wasn't aware that "Australia has about 200 species of marsupials." Of course most of them probably don't have beach towels and kayaks in their pouches. Still, it's nice to see an introduction to different types of animals from the usual bears, elephants, giraffes, etc.
I also appreciated Mueller's use of descriptive vocabulary words like "trudged" and "bossy". And while Harriet Can Carry It has not a whiff of didacticism, one could use it to discuss that with kids the idea that it is ok to say no when people are making unreasonable requests.
Vonthron-Laver's watercolor illustrations are bright and colorful, conveying the heat of a summer's day, the green of the countryside, and the exhaustion of poor Harriet. Her lumpy pouchy, with various beach items sticking out, will resonate with moms everywhere (the designated toters of family items). Harriet Can Carry It made me want to go to the beach, with nothing but a book and a towel.
Harriet Can Carry It is an entertaining picture book that introduces kids to marsupials in a light, yet memorable manner. It would make a fun read-aloud for schools or libraries. Recommended.
Publisher: Star Bright Books (@StarBrightBooks)
Publication Date: October 1, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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