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Reviewed by Savannah Aldridge for Readers' Favorite
Harry Can Hear by Fynisa Engler and Milanka Reardon is a picture book about hearing loss and learning not to make hasty assumptions about others. Harry, an adorable hedgehog boy in a world of forest animals, is notorious for not responding when others speak to him. At home, at school, and out in the world, people are annoyed when Harry seemingly ignores them. Harry is also sad when he misses out on special things, like delicious toppings on ice creams, because he fails to react. One day, Harry’s class gets their hearing tested and the school nurse discovers that Harry has trouble hearing. Harry visits the doctor to pick out a pair of hearing aids and has a different experience of the world and others around him.
For adults looking to give the children in their lives the gift of understanding diverse experiences, Harry Can Hear is a wonderful book to add to their collections. Fynisa Engler tactfully shows how those around Harry were under the mistaken impression that Harry never listened, and the impact that this had on Harry’s life. I also loved Engler’s decision to explain what a hearing exam involves, making the procedure familiar to any reader who may be about to undergo a similar test, or helping hearing readers understand what hard-of-hearing friends have experienced. I also deeply appreciated how the narrative remained centered on the character with the disability. Milanka Reardon illustrated an expressive and joyful protagonist who is adorable, playful, and exciting to follow from page one. The beautiful pictures, along with language simple enough to be mastered by early readers, make this tale a must-read.