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Harriet, You'll Drive Me Wild!


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About the Author

Mem Fox has written over 38 books for adults and children including Possum Magic, which has sold over three million copies and is the bestselling picture book ever in Australia. Mem has been presented with many awards including an AM in the 1993 Australia Day Honours for services to the cultural life of Australia; an SA Great Award for Literature in 2001; the Prime Minister's Centenary Medal in 2003; and she was shortlisted for the Australian of the Year in 2004. She worked as an Associate Professor of Literacy Studies in the School of Education at Flinders University, South Australia for twenty-four years and is now an international literacy consultant. Mem's books with Penguin include Where is the Green Sheep?, Hunwick's Egg, A Particular Cow, Where The Giant Sleeps, Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, Hello Baby!, The Goblin and the Empty Chair, A Giraffe in the Bath and most recently Baby Bedtime. She lives in Adelaide, Australia. 'Mem Fox's books are like a warm blanket; they have a way of making the world seem a little cosier.' Sunday Age MARLA FRAZEE has illustrated many enormously popular picture books. She lives in Pasadena, California.


PreS-K-An exaggerated but recognizable domestic drama with an exasperating, trouble-prone heroine at its center. Harriet is always guilty of some minor but messy infraction like spilling juice, dripping paint, or ripping her feather pillow. She is never naughty on purpose, she says. It just happens, and she is always sorry. Her long-suffering mother is never angry on purpose. It just happens and, when she yells, she is sorry, too. Extending the text, which plays on the parallel between provoked mother and fractious child, are the expressive illustrations done in pencil and transparent drawing inks. Their small, upper-middle class, personal world is depicted in telling detail. While Harriet's mischief escalates, readers are assured of a gentle touch by the pastel palette and the soft-edged pictures that bleed out into generous white space. What seems to be missing in this otherwise charming effort is any evidence of effective parenting. When Harriet spills, mom sponges; when she dribbles, mom launders. "Harriet, my darling child. Harriet, you'll drive me wild," is the overwrought mother's oft-repeated but feckless refrain. There never seem to be any real consequences for Harriet's misbehavior. Only in the final illustration do readers see parent and child cleaning up the mess together. This is meant to be a reassuring book, but it fails if one believes that a consistent, firm, fair parent is always more comforting than one who does not seem in control. David Shannon's No, David! (Scholastic, 1998) handles a similar theme with more deftness and humor.-Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Greenwich, CT Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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 compellingÄthe book ultimately feels more like a parenting article than something children will clamor to hear and see again. Ages 3-7. (Apr.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

A most successful team effort.--The Horn Book Lively illustrations sparkle . . . [This book] should prove a soothing balm for exasperated moms and their busy little bees.--Kirkus Reviews Harriet . . . is a thoroughly engaging character, one whose acquaintance readers will be delighted to make.--The New York Times Book Review --

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