Sunday, February 19, 2012

Harry & Hopper

Wild, Margaret. 2011. HARRY & HOPPER. Ill by Freya Blackwood. New York: Macmillian. ISBN 9780312642617 [Suggested Grade Levels 1–3]

Where there is love, there is loss and for young children, the love of a pet is often followed by its loss. HARRY & HOPPER is about a child’s loss, but also the child’s journey through the grief and loneliness that follows. Hopper “was as jumpy as a grasshopper” and every evening would sneak past Dad to sleep on Harry’s bed. When Hopper dies, Harry is devastated. He does not say good bye to Hopper, does not help his father bury him, and does not want to sleep in his room. Yet Hopper appears to Harry that night and several nights thereafter. Harry lives for these nocturnal visits of play, yet Hopper gradually fades away, as if mirroring the lessening of Harry’s grief. On the last visit, Hopper is weak and unable to “hop” around. Harry carries Hopper into his bed where he holds a ghostly Hopper and softly tells him good bye.

This gentle book speaks to children through the simple story and superb illustrations of Freya Blackwood that capture the essence of the emotions. This book speaks on a child’s level, making it an excellent choice for children to understand the forms that grieving may take.

This book is perfect for teaching children how to infer a character’s feelings and reactions due to Blackwood’s excellent illustrations. For older children, the illustrations show the use of line to indicate motion, emotions, and how less can be more. This book is a wonderful addition to a collection of books on loss and coping.

Other books about the death of a pet:
Viorst, Judith. THE TENTH GOOD THING ABOUT BARNEY. ISBN 9780689712036
Rylant, Cynthia. DOG HEAVEN. ISBN 9780590417013

By Christine J. Rayl

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