[Reviewed from Copy Courtesy of Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers]
Harriet Gets Carried Away is a wonderful and adventurous story about Harriet and her amazing imagination — or possibly about Harriet and her real and incredible journey to Antarctica (it depends on what you think really happened).
Either way, this story, with its enchanting illustrations, adorable characters, and fantastic blending of reality and fantasy, makes for a wonderful read with children. It playfully and effortlessly elicits amazing conversations about what’s possible, impossible, real, and imaginary.
Harriet has a joyful and inspiring enthusiasm for costumes. She wears costumes anywhere and everywhere.
On the morning of her very own birthday party we find Harriet and her fathers on the roof patio getting ready for the grand event. They’re almost ready except for a few extra items they need to pick up at the store.
Harriet dons her errand-running penguin costume – with bow tie – and off the three of them go. While her dads are at the deli counter, she waddles off in search of party hats.
But when she turns the corner, to everyone’s surprise, she finds PENGUINS in the frozen section grabbing bags of ice. Considering how appropriately she’s dressed, she decides to head off with the penguins. And because she blends in so well with them, she’s able to go out the store, through the city, and into a hot air balloon without any adults paying much attention.
It isn’t until they’ve almost landed in Antarctica that she thinks maybe this isn’t where she belongs. One penguin consoles her and suggests that if she takes off her bow tie she might feel more like she belongs. (It’s worth a try.)
But Harriet, sweet Harriet, doesn’t care about fitting in — she’s gotta get back to the store and quickly. She tries one plan, then another, and then another — but nothing works!
Fortunately, a friendly orca gives her a ride back to the city (turns out he’s heading the same way anyway). He takes her as far as he can go, and that’s when Harriet calls for some of her pigeon friends. The pigeons literally pick her up and carry her back into the city and right back into the store.
She grabs the last of the party hats, finds her parents, grabs a new bow tie, and heads home. Whew! She’s just in time for the party. She puts on her extra-special birthday costume, an awesome lion one, and they all head up to the roof for the birthday party.
The story ends with her friend, Olivia, dressed reminiscently of Max from Where the Wild Things Are, and her wolf friends making quite the entrance.
The whole concept of the book is hilarious and fantastic. Sima, it seems, must have heard the phrase, “Now don’t get carried away…” and thought, “Now, what would I want to carry me away? A hot-air balloon sounds like fun. And with penguins, yes! But what if I got stuck in Antartica, then what would happen? An orca would rescue me! But the orca can’t go near shallow water or they’ll get stuck… so what then? How about I fly! WITH PIGEONS! YES!” Or so I imagine — because that’s how it feels when you read this book. It is just one awesome thing after the other: wearing costumes all the time, a birthday party — on a rooftop, having two dads, penguins, hot-air balloons, orcas, and pigeons.
The illustrations are so friendly and beautifully set the tone for an exciting adventure. It’ll have children wondering if she really went to Antarctica or if she was just pretending — and you’ll all have a good time listening to them as they debate the merits of each side. (Eight-year-old is sure it was just pretend while the four-year-old is equally as sure it actually happened.)
Harriet Gets Carried Away is an enchanting slice-of-life. It is perfect for imaginative and ebullient children and their parents, and all those who wish they, too, could go on a magical hot air balloon ride with penguins — which means it is possibly perfect for everyone, cause who wouldn’t love to go on a magical hot air balloon ride with penguins?
My four-and-eight-year-old sons love this story and it’s a hoot to read with them. They bounce around, argue if it really happened or not, postulate on what they’d do if they were in the same position, and have started lobbying to wear costumes more and more. The tone, pacing, and the flow of the story is energetic and magical. It’s an easy book to love and to read again and again and again. It’s almost impossible to say no when the kids beg for just one more time… and one more time after that… and one more time after….because sometimes it’s hard not to get carried away.
Recommended Ages 3 to 9. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers. March 2018. 40 pages. ISBN: 978-1481469111 Fiction.
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Where Obtained: I received a review copy from the publisher. No other compensation was received. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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