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Harry's Mad


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About the Author

Dick King-Smith was born and raised in Gloucestershire, England, surrounded by pet animals. After twenty years as a farmer, he turned to teaching and then to writing children's books. Dick writes mostly about animals: farmyard fantasy, as he likes to call it, often about pigs, his special favorites. He enjoys writing for children, meeting the children who read his books, and knowing that they get enjoyment from what he does. Among his well-loved books is Babe, The Gallant Pig , which was recently made into a major motion picture, and was nominated for an Academy Award.

Dick currently lives with his wife in a small 17th-century cottage, about three miles from the house where he was born.


Gr 2-5 Don't be confused by the title. Harry isn't angry, he's delighted, and so are we, to find that the African Gray parrot he's inherited from his eccentric American uncle has an extensive vocabulary and the independent intelligence to use it. The parrot Madison (Mad for short) is as likable and unique as King-Smith's other recent animal hero, Babe: the Gallant Pig (Crown, 1985). For a while, Harry and Mad keep the secret between them, and the animal/child conspiracy is as delightful as that of Ralph and Keith in Cleary's The Mouse and the Motorcycle (Morrow, 1965). The secret is too good to keep, however, and Mad is soon delighting Harry's mother with his fastidious personal habits and his gourmet recipes and helping Harry's Dad with the crossword puzzles. When evil strikes in the form of a parrot-napping burglar, the agony of both boy and bird is palpable. This book will be fun as a read-aloud as well as a read-alone, and should prove popular. Sally T. Margolis, Town & Country Day School, Kensington, Md.

Harry's parents and friends think he's mad, because he acts out the rich fantasies of his 10-year-old imagination. And when his eccentric American uncle dies and leaves Harry a parrot named Madison (Mad), they're convinced of it. Mad is no ordinary parroting parrot; he's a linguist, a crossword-puzzle ace, a chess champ and a gourmet. The cozy English family agrees to keep Mad's extraordinary talents secretuntil a burglar kidnaps the bird. It seems as if Harry's Mad has been lost forever, but happily all ends well. Once again, King-Smith ( Babe: The Gallant Pig, Pigs Might Fly, etc.) has devised a believable, satisfying animal fantasy, with memorable characterizations and playful humor. Bennett provides lively, charming pen-and-ink drawings that are perfectly in keeping with the story; this is a sprightly read-aloud and a treat for the author's considerable following. Ages 812. (February)

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