| An Examination of Children's Books and Picture Books
Children's Literature Home
|Picture Books Home||
Picture Book Review Margaret Bloy Graham-Harry by the Sea
"Harry by the Sea" is a wonderfully fun picture book though never a major award winner it is still one of the most poupular books of today. This perhaps is because as books go this one is just plain fun (in general any of the Harry books about the dog are good books for children).
The Title page consists of a double page spread, with a picture of Harry's family/owners as they make their way to the beach running along the bottom of both pages. At the back of the four person line is the dog Harry. Harry in this picture does not look happy, not exactly sad, its not clear why he is the only one in his family not smiling, the pciture is bright with a large orange sun and a soft peach background, so what could possably be amise? This is what we discover with the first words of this book. For as Harry tries to hide under an umbrella we are told that he liked everything about the seashore but the hot sun, and so the illustrator was able to set up the story before it even began.
Obviously discussing such symbols with your children is an imprtant part of children's literature, after all children are able to learn a lot more from picture books then simply how to read, they can learn how to see art as well, and they can learn important values or ideas.
In the next set of pictures Harry is forced to leave the tent because it is too crowded, Harry then is forced to search for shade but everywhere he goes people don't want him around. Children, especially as they grow older will often find that they do not want someone around, it is imprtant for them to empathise with the person experiancing the rejection. Harry by the Sea helps with that by putting the children in the mind of the dog everyone is telling to go away.
Finally Harry is forced to go swimming to escape the hot sun, and in so doing becomes covered in sea weed, now everyone thinks he has become a monster. Although Harry is not doing anything this can in many ways represent the fact that the anger and resentment of being gotten rid of can lead people to act like monsters. Again though children may or may not be able to read that on their own it is important to understand the picture books are about your the parent providing some insight, perhaps after a book has been read a few times.
Harry eventually manages to loose his disguise and is taken back by his family who missed him. The last picture of the book is of the family back at the beach this time with a much larger umbrella, so Harry can rest in the shade. Simplistic and predicatable though this ending may be the journy to it was a little more complex, and certianly provides the oppertunity for you as a parent to discuss social thoughts with your child, even as it provides entertainment for your child as only a picture book can.