Review by Horn Book Review
During one year in the life of Swedish middle-grader Hattie, she survives a protracted period of violent bullying, alienates and then reconciles with her best friend, and rehabilitates a rescue donkey (which her well-meaning father bought her instead of the longed-for horse). But none of these plot strands follows an expected arc, nor are they narrated in a typical reassuring tone. Hattie incites the bullying herself by slugging classmate Alfie and breaking his nose, launching an escalating payback series of attacks. Wise interventions by parents and teachers are fruitless; the deep pleasures of revenge are too potent. The kids finally work it out for themselves in an effective scheme that would not be recommended in any anti-bullying program. Hattie lies, sulks, and steals. Is she presented as dysfunctional? No, just real. What keeps all this buoyant is a rambling, funny, fearless omniscient narrator who skitters away from sentimentality at just the right moment. "Hattie thinks a lot about Jesus and all his donkeys. Life is so easy for some people. If you're Jesus, having a donkey is no trouble; people clap their hands whatever you come up with. But if you're a rotten little Hattie, it's another story." Pen and wash illustrations in a loopy, squiggly style suit the tone completely. This is the perfect offering for readers who have graduated from the Dani books by Lagercrantz and Eriksson (All's Happy That Ends Happy, rev. 11/20) or who resonate with Hilary McKay's brand of bracing hilarity (Saffy's Angel, rev. 7/02). Sarah Ellis November/December 2021 p.108(c) Copyright 2021. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
In this Swedish import via New Zealand, early-elementary--age Hattie longs for a horse but gets a donkey instead. Following the events of Hattie (2020), the little girl is now in her second year of school with best friend Linda. Linda is not horse crazy like the rest of the girls in the class--but Hattie is. Hattie longs for a horse, but when her father gets her a broken-down donkey named Olaf (and is very pleased with himself), Hattie cannot bring herself to tell her classmates the truth. Instead, she makes up a story of a new, grumpy neighbor who has three white horses. Eventually the truth gets out and Hattie has to endure her classmates' taunts. This quirky and terribly funny story is told in a present-tense, third-person-omniscient voice and revels in the perspective of a young child. Readers will appreciate the innocent view full of the limits of a young child's experience and fears: "For grownups, nothing is dangerous enough to worry over," and "Death used to be sort of fun." As Hattie navigates school, with all the casual cruelties kids can inflict, she learns something about loyalty and what is really important to her. Wirsén's black-and-white illustrations are full of spark and life, complementing the story's quirky aspect. All characters' skin is illustrated as the white of the paper. A sparkling story that honors the sensibilities and world of young schoolchildren. (Fiction. 8-12) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.