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Reviewed by Jon Michael Miller for Readers' Favorite
Reading Harry and the Hooligans by Dr. Robert A. Ernst is like immersing yourself in chaos and comedy in a world of animal personifications. It all takes place in Pondville, a pond community based upon the author’s home in Nova Scotia and inspired by a child’s question, “Why?” Harry is a frog and the newly appointed sheriff who gets into trouble immediately by testing his badly outdated office vehicles and needs to be rescued by a pair of helicopter cranes. The entire community is made up of animals: turtles, frogs, bears, deer, bloodhounds and bulldogs, geese, skunks, crows, sheep, raccoons, to name a few. There is also a map of the community all around the pond. The chaos starts when the hooligans decide to rob the local food market.
As I was reading Harry and the Hooligans, I was trying to decide what age group it belongs to. The incredible illustrations by Rose E. Grier Evans suggest the early grades. Still, the sentence structure and vocabulary suggest a higher level with words like dumbfounded, humbly, moseyed, sidearm, sauntered, jalopy, graffiti, monogrammed, and rendezvous appearing on the first several pages. And the message, or lessons, centering around petty crime, court proceedings, prison life, rehabilitation - with judges, attorneys, and mentoring programs - seem more suitable for the later grades. But, whatever the level, readers will chuckle and laugh aloud as I did throughout at the hooligans’ shenanigans, the wacky characters, and incredible drawings. All this, along with Dr. Robert A. Ernst's discussion guide, provides endless opportunities for fun and teaching.