June 25, 2009

Harris and Me

This weeks Booking Through Thursday question asks what book evokes the idea of "summer" for you the most and for me it's undoubtedly Gary Paulsen's hysterical and touching romp, Harris and Me. There's a newer cover but I like this Wendell Minor version myself.

An 11-year-old boy, an obvious stand-in for a young Paulsen if you've read any of his vivid and compelling (and horror-filled) autobiography, spends the summer with some rural relatives and in particular the 9-year-old Harris who opens the relationship with the question, "We heard your parents was puke drunks, is that right?" Well, yes, but the rest of the summer is too much fun for anyone to worry much about "real life."

It's an episodic book, in the style of Twain and recounts the narrator's and Harris's encounters with the wildlife (animal and human) in the country. It's funny but definitely for those around twelve and up due to some language. It's unfortunate that Paulsen is only known as a children's book writer, because this should have crossover appeal with adults in the same way Richard Peck's Grandma Dowdel books do (A Long Way to Chicago, A Year Down Yonder, A Season of Gifts). My own daddy grew up on a farm in Tennessee and just about peed his pants reading this, so that's high praise indeed.