HARRIS AND ME by Gary Paulsen


A Summer Remembered
Age Range: 11 - 15
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As the boy explains, he's 11 years old that early-50's summer when a deputy sheriff dumps him with distant relatives on a north country farm--one in a long succession of makeshifts arranged in lieu of the parents who drink Four Roses neat from jelly jars and are "pretty much mean whenever they [are] conscious." The Larsons are sturdy, rough folk; Knute is virtually silent, though he's the source of his nine-year-old son Harris's richly profane vocabulary, which invariably elicits harsh (but ineffective) blows from "strapping" sister Glennis. In Harris's charge, the boy learns, the hard way, to avoid the cow with a brutal kick and the mouse-devouring "cat" that's actually a lynx. Ignored by their busy elders, Harris's imagination regularly gets the two into freewheeling "trouble" as dangerous as it is hilarious--trouble involving the two giant horses, or a runaway bike fitted with Harris's mother's gasoline washing-machine motor. By summer's end, the boy has learned to match Harris's wild pranks (he challenges Harris to urinate on an electric fence, with the expected result) and has fathomed the true humanity of the characters he so vividly and comically describes (the hired man gulping pancakes, syrup in his beard, is unforgettable). Just when he and the Larsons begin to regard each other as family, the boy is wrenched away. Poignantly, after one lonely letter from Harris, the book ends. The fecund Paulsen continues to extend his range: an earthy, wonderfully comic piece. (Fiction. 11-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-15-292877-4
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1993


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