13 July 2009

Book of the Week (22): "Harris Finds His Feet" by Catherine Rayner

Harris the hare is upset that his feet are so big, so his Grandad sets out to explain to him how useful big feet can be. He shows Harris how they can help you hop very high, dig holes and run very fast.

All this is really an excuse to look at themes of youth and age, the process of growing up, and the journey through life.

Harris Finds His Feet has just won the Kate Greenaway Medal, the UK's major picture book prize for outstanding illustrations. And the illustrations are beautiful indeed. Harris is exquisitely drawn, so that he bristles with personality – you take one look at him and see immediately that he’s gangly and young and inquisitive and playful and not very co-ordinated.

I find it impossible to get Guess How Much I Love You out of my head when I read the book (young, naïve hare in conversation with older, wiser hare relative). But after the first few pages, the story does leap away from that well-known title into its own territory.

Ultimately, I found the illustrations more deeply satisfying than the story. Catherine Rayner is enormously talented and I reckon she’s going to get better and better.

Recommended by Susan Reuben

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