No Roses for Harry!
Review by Molly
Harry, the white dog with black spots, gets a gift from Grandma. He is not too crazy about it. The present is a sweater, not just any sweater; his present is a hand-knitted sweater with big roses all over it. Harry hates it. He is just not a roses kind of guy. Harry is a white fellow with black spots.
Harry tried the sweater on, and it did feel all cozy and comfy. Nevertheless he didn’t like the roses. Harry thought it was the silliest sweater he had ever seen. Harry was embarrassed; everyone laughed when he wore it, so he tried losing it...several times. No matter how hard he tried, someone always managed to find the sweater and bring it back. At last a mother bird swoops in and with a tug of her beak the sweater begins to disappear. Harry is a happy little pup. Black and white is the look he prefers.
And then, he learns Grandma is coming for a visit. Now he does not know what to do. He doesn't want Grandma to have hurt feelings, she WILL want to see him wearing the sweater, but he can't get the sweater back either. It is unraveled. What to do? Harry's family looks everywhere for the sweater, however they can't find it. When Grandma arrives, she and Harry take a walk in the park and up in a tree they see a bird with a nice new nest. It is a nest that looks just like Harry's sweater.
When Grandma goes home she knits another sweater for Harry. This time it is white with black spots.
My resident critics, 15 first graders settle in for listening; it is time for "reading on the rug." They hurry a little faster when the book I am holding is one of Gene Zion's, Harry books. They love Harry and his escapades.
No Roses for Harry! is a child pleasing story. Illustrations in muted colors and old fashioned art work sets the tone for the work. Harry first appeared way back, during the 1950s. I am using the copies today that I first began using some twenty plus years ago. My first graders then loved the books, today although worn and well used, they are loved, handled carefully and listened to raptly by this newest group of six year olds.
The popular hero of Harry the Dirty Dog fame does his best to be rid of Grandmother's gift. And when he finally succeeds; has to consider the ramifications of his behavior. He does love Grandma and doesn’t want to hurt her feelings. The book provides good discussion starters for little folks as we talk about how to accept a gift we really would rather not have, how we don't want to hurt the feelings of someone when they are trying to do something nice for us, even if what they come up with is just awful.
I often hear that children are "cruel", I have found that in general little people have not yet developed empathy and in general are not trying to be mean or nasty to one another. It is immaturity that causes children to blurt out the first thing that pops into their minds. Books such as No Roses for Harry! provide some of the grist for guiding children's understanding and empathy.
Each of the Harry books is filled with simple child friendly vocabulary, a problem to solve as Harry becomes involved in a serious situation and twists of plot to hold children's interest.
Gene Zion along with two-time Caldecott Honor winner Margaret Bloy Graham successfully created several long time favorite tales about Harry, including : Harry by the Sea, Harry the Dirty Dog, and No Roses for Harry The illustrations compliment the narratives perfectly and add to the old fashioned feel of the work. First published in 1958 the pictures depicted in No Roses for Harry! are those of a small town such as the one in which I teach.
Images are simple, I like that children are not overwhelmed with too brilliant color or fussy too detailed images. The pictures are finished using quiet greens and oranges, black and white. Illustrator Bloy adds little touches such as bricks on the houses, and wallpaper on the walls. My resident critics look for earrings and other features in the images as they listen. Emotions are clearly portrayed on the faces of characters. My resident critics voice approval of the illustrations.
No Roses for Harry! receives 30 thumbs up from my resident critics. The book is a good choice for the pleasure reading list of children, and as an addition to the home, school, classroom and public library collection. Happy to recommend.
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Harry and the Lady Next Door by Gene Zion
These reviews are personal opinions only and in no way reflect other readers' opinions of the books discussed.
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