Harry’s Mad

Our rating: ***½

Harry, an English boy, inherits a pet parrot from his American great-uncle. He quickly discovers that Madison (Mad for short) the parrot has been taught to carry on conversations by his great-uncle, who was a linguistic professor. Mad soon becomes one of the family, but when he gets kidnapped by a burglar, Mad must find a way to get back home.

This is your basic talking-animal-gets-kidnapped-and-has-to-return-home book, but it has two things going for it to set it apart. First, Dick King-Smith is a master of animal books and British humor (or should I say humour?), so Harry’s Mad is just plain fun in that regard. Second, the storyline of an American parrot being adopted by a British family has all sorts of fun with the differences between the two cultures. So while you won’t find anything too profound here, Harry’s Mad should do the trick of delighting young and old alike.


Our rating: ****

Flip is a happy little colt who enjoys life on a Kentucky farm. He can run, buck, and play, but he can never manage to jump the brook in the pasture. One day, Flip falls asleep and dreams he has wings. Jumping the brook should be easy now!

A very short, easy read with a humorous story and wonderful illustrations. It is simple enough for children just beginning to read and is enjoyable for more advanced readers as well. Since the early 1940’s, Flip has pleased many horse-loving youngsters and it is sure to gather even more fans.

The Highly Trained Dogs of Professor Petit

Our rating: ****

Willie is the errand boy for Puddling Center, a town where all the people think much more of work than play. One day, a showman named Professor Petit comes to town with his five dogs. Willie and the Professor become good friends, and Willie is distressed to hear that Professor Petit’s show may go bankrupt. The cause of the trouble is another showman, Black Hoskins, who is taking all of the Professor’s business. Professor Petit doesn’t mind being beaten by an honest showman, but Black Hoskins seems to be doing everything in his power to shut down the Professor’s show, and Willie suspects that the competing showman is swindling the townsfolk as well.

The Highly Trained Dogs of Professor Petit is a short, fun story. Some of the tricks done by the dogs seem a little unrealistic, however the rest of the book has plenty of charm to make up for that slight flaw. Younger and older readers will both find the story entertaining, and I highly recommend it.

Warton and the Traders

Our rating: ****½

Warton sets off once again to visit his Aunt Toolia, this time to deliver some canned goods. On the way, he meets two woodrats and helps them escape from a wildcat. The woodrats tell Warton that they live in The Bogs and that the wildcat had been plaguing their colony for several days. When he arrives at his aunt’s house, Warton finds that Aunt Toolia has been missing for some time and, with the help of a whippoorwill, finds her in the the dangerous Bogs caring for an injured fawn. Knowing that two small toads cannot possibly cart enough food for such a large animal, Warton leaves to locate the colony of woodrats and enlist their help. But the woodrats insist that everything be a trade, and Warton has nothing to offer in return for their help in feeding the fawn—unless he can find some way to get rid of the wildcat.

Warton and the Traders is perfect for younger readers who want more than a short picture book, but it is written in a way that appeals to the older crowd as well. The story is well-told, amusing and has no objectionable material. Warton and the Traders is part of a series about Warton and Morton, the first being A Toad for Tuesday, with the others following in no particular order.

The Little Cow and the Turtle

Our rating: ****½

The little cow is very curious and is always ready to investigate new things around the farm. She makes friends with picnicking children, a group of hoboes, and a man changing a tire. One day, the little cow discovers a snapping turtle that is moving to a new pond. The cow follows the turtle on its journey across a road, several fields, and the dangerous railroad track.

There really isn’t much to say about The Little Cow and the Turtle. It is a wonderful, simple story with no swashbuckling action and no tough decisions—just a curious little cow and a grumpy old turtle. This beautifully written, memorable tale has become one of my new favorites.