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Sunday, November 8, 2015

Bernice Gets Carried Away, written and illustrated by Hannah E. Harrison. Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin. 2015. $19.99 ages 4 and up

"Everyone else had gotten
strawberry-melon sodas ...

... but not Bernice.

All that was left for her
was the prune-grapefruit ...

and it was warm."

We all assume that birthday parties are great fun for everyone in attendance. Bernice would beg to differ with us. First of all, the dreariness of the day is a perfect match to her mood. Then, she gets to the party and it is one annoying thing after another ... her piece of cake has no rose in the frosting, her soda is abhorrent, and she doesn't even get a chance to hit the piƱata. Man, can it get worse? Apparently, it can!

When she notices a clown holding a lovely bunch of brilliant balloons, she sees her chance to make her day better. The balloon bunch proves a bit too much for her, and it carries her off into the sky. A dark rain cloud is the first thing she sees there, again reflecting exactly how she is feeling. Given some time and a meeting with a sorrowful mama bird, Bernice begins to see her problems as minor. Her world changes!

The story is not wholly original, but it certainly will be appreciated by its intended audience. Many young children will understand and appreciate the emotions felt by the young cat. The beautiful acrylic illustrations grab attention with their fine details, and glow with light. The mood throughout is evident, from muted tones to brilliance as Bernice changes her attitude toward the events of the day. The design and mix of spreads and perspectives evince humor and encourage readers to talk about the indignities and emotions felt. Personalities sparkle as much as the art does, and readers will be delighted to meet each one.

There is much here to enjoy!

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