Harold Loves His Woolly Hat

illus. by Vern Kousky. 40p. Random/Schwartz & Wade. Dec. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781524764678.
RedReviewStarPreS-Gr 2—This delightful story deals with problem-solving and identity in an accessible and appealing way. Harold knows he is a special bear because of his well-loved woolly hat, so when a crow steals it, he has to get it back. After attempting a series of trades, Harold loses his cool and attempts to steal it back, only to discover that three baby crows are nesting inside it. At that, he realizes that he is a special (and helpful!) bear even without the hat, and helps the crow care for her babies. Harold is an appealing, expressive character, and a perfect stand-in for his maturing preschool audience. The mixed-media illustrations are spare and reminiscent of Jon Klassen's style, incorporating a mix of spot art, full-page images, and spreads. Harold has oval eyes, an oversize head, and a round nose, and his hat is large, red-and-orange striped, with a pom-pom on top. The book's trim is tall and slender, emphasizing the smallness of Harold and the height of the tree containing the crow's nest. When the little bear finally loses his temper, he suddenly fills the whole page, his face red, with his shouted words in enormous font filling the facing page. The text is spare, with not a word wasted, perfectly capturing a child's sensibility.
VERDICT This selection works equally well as a group or one-on-one read-aloud, and would even be effective for newly independent readers. All libraries should make space on their shelves for Harold.

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