Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Letting Go...

Back in March, March 26, 2011 to be exact, Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan, authors of Bookends: A Booklist Blog, reviewed Harry & Hopper written by Margaret Wild and illustrated by Freya Blackwood

At that time I commented back to them that I had held that very title in my hand on the same day in a local bookstore, debating whether I could read a book about losing a pet, let alone buy it.  I left the bookstore without a copy. But based upon their review and knowing that there is a need for this kind of book in my elementary library media center, there is a copy now sitting next to my computer as I write this post.

I have read it over several times and I would be lying if I were to say that I did not cry because I did. I have loved and lost two wonderful dogs in my lifetime.  I live with and love one right now.  I will always have a dog in my life.  My students and I commiserate on a regular basis about the death of a beloved pet.  They are family, aren't they?

When the puppy came to live with Harry and Dad, he was as jumpy as a grasshopper.  So, that's what Harry called him, Hopper.  Readers see Harry teaching Hopper,as he grows, all the doggie things he needs to know.  In return Hopper helps Harry with his homework and at night, they sleep head to head gazing at one another.  They are inseparable.

One afternoon when Harry returns home from school Hopper is not there to greet him.  His Dad is sitting on the front steps with sad news for Harry.  Harry is filled with such sorrow by the sudden loss that he can not say goodbye to Hopper or sleep in his own bed that night.  Instead his Dad makes a bed for him on the sofa. 

For a second night Harry sleeps on the sofa but awakens in the middle of his slumber to something special.  Touching and sincere this magic over the next several nights shows readers how to remember and say goodbye with love.

I am a fan of author, Margaret Wild.  What has set this and her other titles apart as well as earning her a following is the simple, warm wording that flows throughout her stories.  She has the adept ability to reveal the heart of a matter so that it is subtly clear to readers of all ages.

Freya Blackwood uses laser print on watercolor paper with watercolor, gouache and charcoal to create the pictures that compliment and enhance Wild's text.  Her illustrations are gentle, whimsical and soft with colors that convey just the right mood for each part of the story.  Her endpaper designs mirror the quilt used to cover Harry when he is sleeping on the sofa. When Harry and Hopper first meet she begins with Hopper in charcoal sketch running across one page to jump on Harry's lap on the second page whole with color.  By following this link you can see more of the illustrations from this book which won the highest award for children's illustrations in the UK, the  CILIP Kate Greenaway Award, on June 24, 2010.  This award is given by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals.

Sudden loss is hard to face but these two Australians have fashioned a tale pure, beautiful and memorable.

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