Harry and the Guinea Pig by Nancy Lambert, illustrated by Saba Joshaghani

    Harry and the Guinea Pig by Nancy Lambert, illustrated by Saba Joshaghani, HarperCollins, 9780062747730, 2021 

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3

Format: Hardcover

Genre: Picture book

What did you like about the book?  I love the original Harry books and was pleased to see that the character has enough fans to return for another adventure. In this outing, Harry becomes jealous when his children babysit the neighbor’s guinea pig, who quickly soaks up all their attention. Harry tries acting like a guinea pig, which is spectacularly unsuccessful but then gets to be the hero when the rodent escapes in the school, only to be tracked down by Harry’s superior sniffer skills. The illustrations look exactly like the originals, with the same color palette, and Adobe Photoshop techniques that manage to replicate the old-fashioned lithography of the earlier books. The people still look like they belong in the 1950s; the little girl wears a Peanuts-style dress and white kneesocks while Mom and Dad look right out of The Family Circus. The school does show children of color and a man as the librarian, so there is a wisp of the 21st century. The guinea pig is quite fetching.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Doesn’t quite live up to the existential umph of the original. Is Harry still Harry if he’s clean? Is he living in bad faith if he sets aside his dirty dog ways? The scrub brush under the dog bed in the final illustration? Priceless! And I love the mischievous antics of No Roses for Harry, with the reconstructed sweater nest at the end. This book was much more predictable. Do schools even allow children to bring pets for show-and-tell anymore?

To whom would you recommend this book?  Fans of the original, especially adults who want to read or purchase something familiar. It could be a good choice for families dealing with sibling rivalry. The illustrations are large and easy to see, so it would work as a group read aloud.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries where Harry is popular

Where would you shelve it? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: April 5, 2021

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