Book #11: No Roses for Harry

IMG_1434Harry.  What do we do with you?  You were born in 1958 at a time when men were men and girls didn’t carry heavy artillery.  Yes, you’re a dog.  But an animal in a children’s book is just a human with excessive fur, and so, dear Harry, what are you but a boy who doesn’t want to be caught dead in a flowery sweater?

Look at how the others make fun of him! Would this story be published today? Probably not. The story has a really crappy thing to say about what it means to be a male dog in drag.  But here I go shredding a charming story.  I’m not being facetious, either.  I love this book.  IMG_1439

Harry tries desperately to lose his sweater in a department store.  But people keep finding it and returning it to him.  Very frustrating.

As it happens, he finds a little piece of string on the edge of his sweater. A bird takes over.





When Grandma comes to visit, everyone goes crazy trying to find Harry’s sweater, but of course only Harry knows the truth.


Look at this!  How can you not read this book to a child?  How can you grow up without this picture carved indelibly on the brain?  It is too wonderful.


Harry gets a better sweater in the end.  For now, let’s not judge a fifties book by modern standards.  But do have a conversation with your child about what it means to be a boy and wear a sweater with roses on it.  It’s not at all what the story is about.  Or what the author intended.  But I think it’s worth the discussion anyway.


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  1. Harry isn’t in drag. He doesn’t like the sweater. What’s wrong with having an opinion on fashion? If the morals of the day were being reflected (as you claim they are) then why does the family want harry to wear the sweater? Why does the grandma want to dress harry in drag? The answer of course is that they don’t. Harry doesn’t like the sweater because he has an opinion not because of any underlying social issue you are projecting on it. You said yourself we shouldn’t judge this book by today’s standards but I think it’s just as important to not project today’s issues on the past either.

Something to say?