Harry in a Hurry

Harry in a Hurry
Timothy Knapman and Gemma Merino
Macmillan Children’s Books

Harry the hare is always in a frantic rush to do everything and go everywhere, so much so that he’s apt to cause chaos wherever he goes.

He makes some pretty perilous moves as he speeds around on his scooter until he suddenly finds himself hurtling through the air and into a pond.

Happily Tom Tortoise is there to fish him out, scooter and all and is even good enough to offer to mend Harry’s battered scooter.
Being a tortoise however, means that whatever Tom does, it’s at an extremely slow speed and inevitably it will be so with the task he’s kindly undertaken.

The badly bruised Harry has no choice but to wait and accept his friend’s offer of lunch.

As he does so, something strange starts to happen.

After their lunch Tom suggests a walk and more of Harry’s grumpiness dissipates as he pauses and takes notice of his surroundings.

Tom slips quietly back to finish his task, returning several hours later with the job done, to discover a decidedly more composed Harry, now mindful of his previous bad manners, and appreciative of both his friend’s efforts and the beauty all around.

Timothy’s tale, funny though it may be, has serious messages about kindness, friendship and the importance of taking time to enjoy everything that slowing down offers, not the least being good-natured interactions with others and the beauty of the natural world.

Gemma Merino’s expressive illustrations orchestrate the action brilliantly, bringing out the contrasts between the characters with gentle humour, and providing lots of amusing touches, not the least being the activities of the little mouse and other unmentioned creatures – an extra reward for those who read the book slowly.

A Tree Climbing Cow and a Mowing Toad

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The Cow Who Climbed a Tree
Gemma Merino
Macmillan Children’s Books
The sight of a cow perusing a book and wielding a magnifying glass on the first spread immediately predisposed me to like this book and endeared me to its chief protagonist. Tina is her name and seemingly she has an insatiable thirst for discovery. Her sisters however remain unimpressed by the wonderful things that occupy their sibling’s mind.
One day as she explores the woods, Tina takes it upon herself to climb a tree and there at the top a rather large surprise awaits her in the form of a vegetarian dragon. The two forge a friendship

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and spend the afternoon in dreams and stories.
Comments of “IMPOSSIBLE! RIDICULOUS! NONSENSE! are thrown at her by her sisters as she regales her adventure. But the following morning Tina is notable by her absence though she has left a message.

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Off go the disbelievers to track her down and as they venture out of their comfort zone something unexpected overtakes them – literally – and so up they go …
Then all it takes is an invitation from Tina and …

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a leap of faith. And after that? Well, who can say…
I love the understated humour in both words and pictures of Gemma Merino’s latest offering. Her colour palette is mouthwateringly delicious too.

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McToad Mows Tiny Island
Tom Angleberger and John Hendrix
Abrams Books for Young Readers
Subtitled ‘A Transportation Tale’, this wacky book is certainly that in more ways than one. Its one and only character is McToad, mower of islands; one is Big Island– that occupies his time every day but one.

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The other’s small and is aptly named Tiny Island; it’s here McToad spends Thursdays, his favourite day of the week. There’s nothing exciting about that I know, but it’s all about the getting there. Having driven his mower from the shed, McToad drives it onto his truck, drives to the train loading it thereon with a forklift. The train heads to the airport where a plane flies to the opposite side of Big island and from there it’s a helicopter journey to the docks, onto a steamboat and across to Tiny Island where a crane deposits the mower onto its destination. Back in the mower Mc Toad proceeds to mow the island pausing only briefly for a drink and refuel.
Then job done and it’s erm, back from whence he came.

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Utterly bonkers with its anti-climactic finale but there are so many unanswered questions: Is McToad a transport magnate? (His logo is brandished across each and every vehicle in the story.) Are there no other inhabitants on either island? Does he own both and everything thereon? Where’s the crane while McToad is mowing Tiny Island? Isn’t he lonely? These are a few that immediately come to mind. Children will come up with many more I’m sure.
Even for those who aren’t big machine enthusiasts, there is plenty to appeal in the illustrations. The plethora of witty details are bound to make anyone smile – the row of objects behind the steering wheel in McToad’s truck

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and this …

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not forgetting that patched straw hat of course.

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