Harold's Tail

Harold's Tail

5.0 1
by John Bemelmans Marciano
     
 

Harold is a squirrel living a happy if sheltered life in his park on New York City's Upper West Side. But when a streetwise rat persuades him to take part in an experiment, Harold suddenly finds himself without his tail fur-and without a home. Mistaken for a rat and forced out on the unfamiliar streets of New York, Harold encounters a cast of unforgettable

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Overview

Harold is a squirrel living a happy if sheltered life in his park on New York City's Upper West Side. But when a streetwise rat persuades him to take part in an experiment, Harold suddenly finds himself without his tail fur-and without a home. Mistaken for a rat and forced out on the unfamiliar streets of New York, Harold encounters a cast of unforgettable characters, including a neurotic pigeon, a vain cat, and a tribe of hostile squirrels. But it's not until Harold discovers allies in an unusual trio of rodents that his adventures really begin. . . . By turns funny, poignant, and suspenseful, Harold's Tail will appeal to fans of Stuart Little and The Cricket in Times Square as it celebrates the courage of an unexpected hero and the resilient power of friendship

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Harold, the squirrel narrator of Marciano's (Madeline Says Merci) sluggish story, lives in a small park in Manhattan, where he happily devours the food that visitors throw him. Then he encounters Sidney, a rat, who accuses Harold of putting on airs and tells him, "You ain't no better than me. In fact, the only difference between you and me is that fluffy tail of yours." Reluctantly, Harold agrees to participate in Sidney's "little experiment": to prove that Harold's "precious people friends" only love him because of his bushy tail, the rat shaves off the fur on the squirrel's tail and glues it onto his own. Now that Sidney looks like a squirrel and Harold a rat, the people in the park dote on the former and shun the latter. Miserable, Harold flees the park and joins up with a pack of rats. Unfortunately, tedious details of their nocturnal activity comprise much of the ensuing narrative. If there is a message here, about the superficial importance attached to appearance or about being true to one's self, it is muddled-and buried under too much trash-scavenging. Final artwork not seen by PW. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Harold's tail is what makes Harold, a squirrel living in Straus Park in New York City, look like a squirrel instead of a rat�as he discovers to his shocked sorrow when a conniving rat named Sidney convinces Harold to trade identities by shaving his magnificent tail and turning the shaved-off fur into a tail toupee for Sidney. Suddenly the kindly folks who once gave Harold a steady supply of macadamia nuts are beating him off with their canes and showering treats upon Sidney instead. The tail does make the rodent, at least in the prejudiced eyes of rat-hating humans. All that is left for Harold is to flee from his beloved park and take up residence with a tough-talking but kind-hearted band of scavenging rats and learn how to live in a rat's world. Illustrated with the author's abundant black-and-white drawings, the story builds to an enormously satisfying conclusion, as Harold, tail restored, is able to return to his sweet squirrel existence while still savoring his enduring rat friendships. This book could be paired with Elizabeth Winthrop's The Red-Hot Rattoons to inspire classroom discussions about the irrationality and intractability of prejudice. Young readers will want to make a New York pilgrimage to the various sites of Harold's adventures: an author's note reveals that all the locations depicted in the book are real�oh, to frolic with the rats on the delightful garbage of Black Rock, on 114th Street just west of Broadway! 2003, Viking, Ages 8 up.
— Claudia Mills
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-Harold, a squirrel, lives in a New York City park, tours the area daily, and samples nuts offered by his human friends. Life is good until a rat suggests that it is only Harold's bushy tail that separates him from the lowly and loathed rat world. To test this hypothesis, Harold agrees to having his tail shaved. The rodents break into a barbershop, the rat glues Harold's tail fur onto his own spindly tail, and the two trade places. Sure enough, Harold is treated cruelly by his former benefactors and chased out of a nearby park by haughty squirrels. He finally finds shelter in a cellar with other outcast but friendly rats. By the story's conclusion, the counterfeit squirrel gets his comeuppance, Harold's fur has grown back, and he's made new friends. Frequent black-and-white line drawings move the tale along. Children may have a difficult time getting by the believability factor and caring about Harold and his predicament. George Selden's Cricket in Times Square (Farrar, 1960) tells a better friendship story and E. B. White's Stuart Little (HarperCollins, 1945) is a more compelling adventure.-Susan Hepler, Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Ever thought about the difference between a rat and a squirrel? Marciano has-and the result is a study of prejudice and elitism that never once loses sight of its frolicking tail . . . er, tale. Harold, squirrel and proud owner of a fluffy tail, has the perfect life in Manhattan. Admirers have always lovingly supplied him with food. But Sidney, a conniving rat, alters his life forever when he fools Harold, na�ve and sweet, into relinquishing his tail fur to Sidney and is immediately taken for a rat. Harold loses his home to Sidney and must now make his way in a world where he's despised. A friendly group of rats takes him in and teaches him the ways of scrounging. Oddly, it takes many months for Harold's tail to grow back, but having learned that it's what's behind the gray fur that matters, Harold eventually returns to his island. This is an endearing adventure, enhanced by black-and-white drawings, and a unique approach to a ubiquitous societal issue. (Fiction. 7-11)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780670036608
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
09/15/2003
Pages:
144
Product dimensions:
6.26(w) x 9.32(h) x 0.72(d)
Lexile:
710L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

John Bemelmans Marciano is the grandson of Madeline creator Ludwig Bemelmans. A self-taught illustrator, his previous books for Viking include Delilah and Madeline Says Merci.

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