Harriet's Hare: 07/25/09
Three of the four reviews I've found online on Harriet's Hare by Dick King-Smith are by students. All of their reactions to the book are highly positive, so keep that in mind when I post my thoughts.
Harriet's Hare is about a magical summertime friendship between a young girl (Harriet) and an alien on holiday who spends most of his time disguised as a hare (Lepus Pronolagus). As summer progresses, Wiz promises to do a favor for Harriet and of course he does and it's a happy ending all around.
I have no problem with the talking animals; they are pretty standard in books aimed at this age range. I do have problems with how apparently perfect Wiz is. He is from an advanced species who have no war, don't eat anything that was ever living, and are omnilingual. He's so perfect that Harriet practically worships him.
Except he isn't perfect at least not on the morality front. First of all he takes great pleasure in messing with the lives of the humans around him to make things "better" for them. He also can't keep it in his pants (except that he's not wearing pants). Apparently it's completely normal for an alien to mate with the species he's disguised as. Harriet interrupts these rendezvous at least twice in the book. I realize Harriet is a farm girl but some parents reading this book out loud to kids might be surprised to see these details included.
Finally there is way in which Wiz makes things perfect for Harriet. He manipulates the meetings of Harriet's father and a newly arrived woman so that in the course of a month they go from being strangers to fiancés! There is nothing in the book to imply that Harriet wants a stepmother or that her father is unhappy. Why should this breakneck paced romance be the happy ending that Harriet apparently wants or needs?