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HOUND AND HARE by Rotraut Susanne Berner Kirkus Star


by Rotraut Susanne Berner & illustrated by Rotraut Susanne Berner & translated by Shelley Tanaka

Age Range: 6 - 8

Pub Date: April 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-88899-987-0
Publisher: Groundwood

With In the Town All Year Round (2008), German author/illustrator Berner presented a Richard Scarry–like vision of town life, though populated by people rather than animals. In this translated beginning reader, she sets her story in a specific town, Great Bone (a map of which whimsically decorates the endpapers) and eschews a human populace in favor of anthropomorphic pigs, hounds, hares and other creatures. The illustrations are done in colored pencil and ink, each creature and picture frame defined by soft blue lines. Hounds and hares emerge as regular Hatfields and McCoys and overtly harass each other with wickedly humorous, singsong taunts. Although classmates Harley Hare and Hugo Hound share interests, they’ve absorbed their families’ prejudices and shun each other. Clever wordplay distinguishes dialogue rife with jabs at the respective detested groups—for example, frustrated because his parents won’t let him participate in the Big Race since they fear the Hounds will attend, Harley Hare thinks, “This place is going to the dogs…I’m…stuck here like a pooch in a pup tent.” Ultimately, he and Hugo Hound rebel, run the race and save fellow runner Pippa Pig when a storm descends, threatening the village. The happily-ever-after ending delivers a satisfying resolution to a story about tolerance that successfully uses humor and engaging artwork to avoid didacticism—a winner. (Early reader. 6-8)