A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Animals featured: penguins, orcas, wolves, pigeons. City life pictured: riding subway, party on roof, laundromat, feeding pigeons in park, Statue of Liberty, skyline of lower Manhattan.
Implicit message of inclusion and acceptance in story about multiracial family with two dads, plus Harriet has multiracial friend group. Girls can be adventurous and resourceful. When we have a problem, we can ask for help and others may help us. Costumes and trying on different identities is fun. Personality quirks can be accommodated by families and friends.
Positive Role Models
Harriet's a spirited, adventurous, and resourceful young girl of color. She has two dads, one white and one African American, and they're clearly a loving, caring family. The dads accommodate her whims to always dress in costume, and plan a nice birthday party for her. The friend group that attends their roof party is composed of kids and parents of various races. The dentist is female. Animal friends are helpful when she's trying to get back to New York City.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Harriet Gets Carried Away by Jessie Sima (Not Quite Narwhal) is a book about a spirited and adventurous young girl of color who has two dads, one who appears to be white and the other African American. Harriet's quirk: She always dresses in costume, even when she goes to the dentist, so of course the birthday party she's planning will be a costume party. In the midst of shopping for party hats, she gets spirited away by penguins, but with a little help from her animal friends, she makes it back just in the nick of time for her party. Kids from multiracial or LGBTQ families will enjoy seeing themselves reflected, and city kids will recognize city scenes -- a roof party, riding on the subway. But kids of all stripes can enjoy the irrepressible Harriet, who's in the mold of beloved, active characters like Olivia and Eloise.
Is It Any Good?
In one seamless story, this book introduces an exuberant multiracial girl who has two dads, sends her on a fantastic hot-air balloon journey with penguins, and throws her a rollicking rooftop party. Harriet Gets Carried Away's inclusive values are all the more powerful because they're implicit. Author-illustrator Jessie Sima doesn't call particular attention to the fact that Harriet has two dads or that her family and friend group are multiracial; it's simply her accepted, everyday reality. The whimsical fantasy elements of the story are presented as equally unsurprising, and fun and adventurous.
The art's dominated by deep muted purples, and it's easier on the adult eye than Sima's previous book, Not Quite Narwhal, which was in glittery, unicorn-friendly pastels. Some pages have fun perspectives; for instance, a bird's-eye view of a street crossing, and a glimpse through a subway window that shows the dads only in torso. The dads are clearly caring, pictured with a gentle arm around their daughter as they steady her on the subway, and Harriet is just the sort of inventive, resourceful young girl who can serve as a strong model for readers.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.