Little, Brown & Company, June 2008
Illustrated by Michael Emberley
Robie and Michael Emberley’s picture book MAIL HARRY TO THE MOON! was the winner of the 2008 Irma S. and James H. Black Award For Excellence in Children’s Literature awarded by the Bank Street College of Education, New York City. Read about the award here.
This prestigious award goes to an outstanding book for young children—a book, according to Bank Street, “in which text and illustrations are inseparable, each enhancing and enlarging on the other to produce a singular whole.”
Robie and Michael were thrilled to know that children were a vital part of naming MAIL HARRY TO THE MOON! the best picture book of 2008. Over the course of many weeks, more than 2,500 children around the country read, examined, discussed, and re-read the four nominated picture books before they voted on the winning book.
This story, told by a young boy, talks about what life was like before the birth of his new brother, Harry. When Harry takes a bite of his banana, his older brother says, “Throw Harry in the trash!” When Harry screams in the middle of the night, his older brother screams back, “Mail Harry to the Moon!” The next morning, when Harry’s brother wakes up, he cannot find Harry — necessitating a trip to the moon.
“New siblings will easily relate to the angst that baby Harry causes for his older brother. “Before Harry, nobody grabbed my gorilla and chewed on its nose. Yesterday, Harry did …. Before Harry, nobody but ME sat on Grandma’s lap. Yesterday, Harry did.” To restore order to his once peaceful household, the boy suggests a variety of solutions. “Flush Harry down the toilet! … Stick Harry in the zoo! … Mail Harry to the moon!” One morning the house is strangely quiet, and the older sibling worries that his parents have actually sent helpless Harry to outer space. Climbing in his laundry basket spaceship, he achieves a daring rescue and even lets Harry sit on his lap for the ride home. Emberley’s strong visual punch lines bring the humor to life, and the older boy’s expressions clearly get his feelings across. Young listeners are sure to giggle at the various predicaments that Harry’s brother envisions for him. Mail Harry to the Moon will have broad appeal for those with or without a new baby in the family.”
-School Library Journal
“Mail Harry to the moon!” is just one of the suggestions made by the narrator, who’s suffering the displacement blues since the arrival of his annoying, attention-hogging baby brother. “Before Harry, nobody but me sat on Grandma’s lap,” he mourns. “Yesterday, Harry did. So I said, ‘Put Harry back inside Mommy.’” But when the boy believes that Mommy and Daddy really have taken him up on the moon idea, his attitude changes dramatically. Harris and Emberley (Happy Birth Day!) are old hands at striking the right balance between comic Sturm und Drang and genuine poignancy, and their considerable talents make this otherwise familiar tale feel fresh and funny — and psychologically true. Emberley’s cartooning brims with terrific shtick — he gives the hero some slow burns and outbursts worthy of Ralph Kramden. Kids will particularly appreciate Emberley’s gift for staging: the final sequence, in which the narrator sets off for the moon (a laundry basket serves as rocket, a colander as space helmet), blows out any vestige of sentimentality with its full-throttle energy.”
“Young children react in different ways to the addition of a new sibling. In this story, baby Harry irritates his older brother (identified only as “me” since he’s telling the story first-person). Big brother is tired of the spitting up, wailing, and grabbing that go along with having a baby brother in the house. In fact sometimes he just wants to Mail Harry to the Moon!. The picture book has simple text that preschoolers can definitely relate to, and a message about familial love (since he decides after all that little brothers aren’t all bad).”
-Five Minutes for Books.com
“Before Harry, there was ME!” says the smiling boy in Robie Harris’ marvelous picture book “Mail Harry to the Moon!” It’s the first of two new works by the author of “It’s Perfectly Normal.” Both books are engaging read-alouds for tots with tempers — and, we hope, a budding sense of humor.
In “Moon,” a new big brother is struggling for attention while Mom and Grandma hover over the newborn, Harry. Author Harris nails big brother’s emotional tirades, but Michael Emberley nearly steals the show with his funny illustrations. His cartoon-like drawings in bright colors capture every nuance in big brother’s angry eyes, slumped shoulders and gritted teeth, telegraphing his mondo irritation over baby vomit on his face, baby in Grandma’s lap and baby screaming. He shouts about tossing Harry into a trash can or flushing him down the toilet. However, when he wakes up and there are no Harry noises, he looks worried.
Although Harris’ resolution may be more pie in the sky than one could expect, it’s an ending every parent would love.
Equally sensitive is Harris’ book about Leo, an attention-hungry boy who explodes with words he instantly regrets. It happens in “The Day Leo Said I Hate You!”. The day begins with Leo hearing only “No!” from his mom, who’s working at her computer. Her admonishments come after he puts green beans in the fishbowl and squeezes toothpaste into the toilet bowl. Thoroughly frustrated, Leo retreats to his room and draws a mad Mom on his wall.
When he unleashes the three dreadful words, he’s shocked. So is his mom, but they talk their way to a loving resolution. Molly Bang’s colorful, expressive collages perfectly match Harris’ emotional text.
-Judy Green, The Sacramento Bee
“The title might call Ralph Cramden to mind, admonishing Alice, “To da moon, Alice…to da moon.” But only grandparents reading aloud would be aware of that, of course. For kids, Harris’s story resonates a deep personal tone with anyone (yes, adults, too) who ever had a sibling. Don’t lie, everyone at some time, considered the nicety of one’s sibling being removed to another galaxy, far away.
This is a good-quality book – an important consideration in children’s reading material. Good fonts, good color and illustrations. Michael Emberley’s engaging cartoony style puts the mood and emotions right there on the page with a sense of wry amusement.
The simple story sees an older brother confused about changes at home when a new baby scarfs up the spotlight in every family scene. Little by little, without heavy-handedness, author and illustrator show readers the other side of being a sibling – it can be fun and a source of pride.
With no down-talking to the audience, feelings are acknowledged and validated by this simple picture book, and all is well at the end, without a hint of gratuitous violence. The lesson learned is secondary to the fun of the story.”
-Maryan Pelland, www.suite101.com
“Before Harry was born, There was ME!
Now there’s me. And Harry.
Thus begins this delightful picture book about sibling rivalry.
Our little protagonist is extremely upset because now that his baby brother has arrived, everything has changed and no one seems to be paying much attention to him. In fact, Harry wants to steal the whole show! Thus different ideas pops into the protagonist’s mind — throwing Harry down the toilet, sticking Harry in the zoo, or even better — mailing Harry to the moon!
But then one morning, Harry disappears and is nowhere to be found. Now it’s up to his jealous older brother — who, by the way, doesn’t seem too jealous anymore — to find him.
Mail Harry to the Moon is a cute and enjoyable book for very young readers. It’s also a nice book to read to young children ages 2 and up. The writing is engaging and the illustrations, simple yet wacky and whimsical, go well with the story. This is a book that will especially appeal to little boys, and one that has an important message for the family. Often young children get jealous with the arrival of a new baby.
Mail Harry to the Moon is the perfect story to ease the tension and teach kids that a new family member can be a great thing too.”
-Mayra Calvani, Armchair Interviews
“This is one of the most fun children’s books I’ve ever read! Robie Harris’ simple words convey a wealth of emotions that perfectly captures both Harry’s innocence, and big brother’s ire and later remorse. All with charming and irresistible humor. There’s nothing preachy about this at all. In fact, since the entire thing is told from the big brother’s point of view, readers are compelled to at first sympathize and later empathize with the older brother’s feelings.
The words are perfectly complemented by Michael Emberley’s drawings that remind me pleasurably of comic strips that were the only saving grace in a Sunday newspaper as far as my much younger self was concerned.”
-A Book Blogger’s Diary
“After reading the title, I immediately wondered who’s Harry? Harry is the infant brother of the young narrator, who immediately embarks on a rant about how hard life has become since Harry arrived, relating his own reactions. He begins, ‘Before Harry was born, there was ME!’
When Harry bites his banana, spits up, chews big brother’s gorilla, takes over Grandma’s lap, and screams all night, our irritated protagonist wants to: throw baby brother in the trash; flush him down the toilet; stick him in the zoo; put him ‘back inside Mommy’; and ‘mail Harry to the moon!’ But when Harry is nowhere to be found in the morning, his brother searches all the places he’d wished him, and even launches an imaginative lunar rescue.
Robie H. Harris tells a sweet story of sibling rivalry and adjustment, ably assisted by Michael Emberley’s emotive illustrations, and enlivened by the young narrator’s imagination. The ending is perfect: ‘Before Harry was born – there was ME. / Now there’s ME AND HARRY!’”
-Hilary Williamson, Book Loons
“Mail Harry to the Moon is an adorable book. I wish I’d have had it when my children were little. My oldest did not like it at all when his baby sister came home from the hospital.
The book begins:
Before Harry was born, There was ME!
Now there’s me. And Harry.
This little guy is not at all happy with the changes in the family since little brother arrived … and he’s come up with plenty of ideas of getting things back to the way they were.
But then one morning, Harry disappears and is nowhere to be found. This helps the older brother see how empty life would be without Harry.
Reading Mail Harry to the Moon to an older sibling is the perfect way to ease the tension and teach kids that a new family member can be a wonderful thing.”
-Book Bargains and Previews