CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 20 . . . .June 9, 2006
Taming Terrible Harry.
Lili Chartrand. Illustrated by Rogé. Translated by Susan Ouriou.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2006.
32 pp., cloth, $22.99.
Preschool-grade 4 / Ages 4-9.
Review by Rosemary Hollett.
Horrible Harry burst out laughing. He was mighty proud of that roar, his loudest ever. Maybe the wolf he’d eaten for breakfast had given him an extra boost. He looked around to make sure no one else was coming and scurried over to have a look at the book. Never before had he had to bellow twice to scare away an intruder. Could this thing be magical in some way? He picked it up. He sniffed it. He licked it and screwed up his face. It had no taste at all.
Taming Terrible Harry is a charming story, written originally in French, about one really bad monster who is tamed by a love of books and reading.
Horrible Harry’s job is to scare humans away from the forest, and he is very good at his work. One day, a little girl is frightened from the woods and, in her haste, leaves a book behind. Harry picks it up, turns it over, bites it, spits it out, and throws it down in a fury! However, the book opens as it falls, and Harry is intrigued by the beautiful pictures. He takes the book home, is introduced to reading by a smart old dragon lady (librarian?) and eventually becomes the storyteller of the forest. Harry entertains all with wonderful tales of knights and ladies.
The author, Lili Chartrand, uses words and images to craft an enchanting story for all ages. The simple text and straightforward vocabulary carry the plot along and conveys the message that books are fun and that reading is intriguing. Chartrand portrays Harry as a lovable monster with a warm personality even at his scariest. His eagerness to learn to read and his delight in sharing this talent with the other monsters of the forest will endear him to the reader.
The bold illustrations, done in vibrant colours, perfectly capture the mood. Although each painting is delightfully ghoulish, a sense of fun abounds. The “large as life” size of the illustrations draws the reader in and creates a feeling of magic in the forest.
This book is destined to become a favourite of children, parents, teachers and librarians. And a “must have” for book selves everywhere.
As for Harry, now that he’s discovered how fabulous books are, he spends his days reading in his hiding place behind the old oak tree.
Rosemary Hollett is the teacher-librarian at St. Emile School in Winnipeg, MB.
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