Horrible Harry Series
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the star of Suzy Kline's Horrible Harry series isn't so horrible. In fact, Harry's more of an imp than a troublemaker -- especially in the later books. His escapades aren't about causing trouble, they're about exploring, having fun, and following his interests, even when that involves sneaking around. He slips under the school fence to his secret hideout so he can think in a tree and explore nature, not to cause trouble or skip school. Most often, Harry finds himself in a jam when he's trying to do something nice for someone else. He has a good heart, a sarcastic and joke-filled brain, and a huge capacity to care.
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What's the Story?
In HORRIBLE HARRY, young Harry gets into trouble and is more "horrible" early in the series; after a handful of books, he's evolved from a mean-ish kid some readers wouldn't like into good-hearted rascal it's hard not to love. The stories are narrated by Harry's best friend Doug, and follow the kids in Miss Mackle's South School class through art contests, new students, a wedding, a lice infestation, and more. The stories are sweet and told in a conversational "kid" style that isn't dumbed down. These books focus on aspects of everyday life that kids experience, both in the classroom and in the outside world with their families.
Is It Any Good?
This series is big on compassion and forgiveness, and showing that an independent streak doesn't always mean trouble if it's paired with a good heart. The Horrible Harry series doesn't go overboard on any lesson: Harry develops a crush on a girl, one that's sustained for many books but is never overdone with swooning and over-the-top gestures readers wouldn't relate to. The book about lice at school is particularly compassionate, as the kids at South School learn that getting lice is common and not something to be embarrassed about.
This series is a funny, mischievous way of focusing on doing good things and being a good person, and reminding readers that gross jokes are sometimes extra funny.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how Horrible Harry and his friends often break the rules but don't get in much trouble because their motivation isn't mischief, it's being helpful or going on an adventure. Does the reason you break the rules matter?
Do you have the same kinds of kids in your classroom that Harry has in his? Who is most like Harry, Doug, Mary, and Song in your class? Do you think your "Harry" is as kindhearted as this one?
What do you think of the way the adults in Harry's world respond to his mischief?
- Author: Suzy Kline
- Illustrators: Frank Remkiewicz, Amy Wummer
- Genre: Friendship
- Topics: Adventures, Bugs, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
- Publication date: May 1, 1997
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 7 - 9
- Number of pages: 64
- Available on: Paperback, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: July 13, 2017
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