Thursday, June 28, 2018

Hattie and Hudson by Chris van Dusen

"The townspeople saw you yesterday ... Everybody thinks you're dangerous. Tomorrow they're coming to catch you and take you away. I don't know where to, but we can't let this happen. We need a plan."

Here is a book that celebrates the power of the individual, the importance of community, problem solving and the importance of overcoming prejudice - all in one picture book!

Hattie is out exploring in her canoe one sunny day. She is a quiet girl who notices all the wonders around her - a beaver, two bald eagles and some turtles basking in the sun. She is so happy she sings a little song. Down in the bottom of the lake a mysterious creature hears her song. He comes up to the surface to investigate and he sees Hattie. She is not afraid.

"There was something in his eyes, the way he looked at her and the curious tilt of his head."

It is at this contemplative moment in the story that everything is spoiled. Some people from the town who are also in boats on the river, scream in horror, faint and roar off in a frenzy when they see this "monster". The next day there is a meeting in the town hall to talk about the ways to get rid of this thing.

"She tried to say something, but she was interrupted
She tried again, but no one heard her.
She tried several times to speak.
Finally she gave up."

Hattie is not defeated. She talks over the problem with "the monster" - she has named him Hudson. Together they make an excellent plan.

Here is a video of the whole book. Take a look at Chris van Dusen's web site. He is the illustrator of the Mercy Watson books and the related stories.

The little songs scattered through out this story would be perfect for a storytelling time with young children and reminded me of all the songs in the Frances books.  Take a minute to read this interview with Chris where he explains his illustration techniques. This book also features on the Mighty Girl web site. I would pair this book with Boy by Phil Cummings.

Outdoor enthusiasts will celebrate this brave young heroine as she schools the town on acceptance.   Kirkus

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