Author Kate Foster loves dogs. She always includes them in her wonderful books. I have reviewed some of her books before, including The Bravest Word and have enjoyed everything she has written so far. In Kate’s latest junior fiction novel in collaboration with illustrator Sophie Beer, dogs don’t just feature, they are central to the entire story!
The book also features a superhero in pyjamas, which is my personal favourite outfit!
Harriet Hound is eight years old and is very lucky to live with her family in their dog rescue shelter – Hound’s Rescue. When Harriet’s globe-trotting nana gives her some very special superhero pyjamas, covered in prints of all sorts of different dogs, and with pockets that are always full of dog treats, some very special things begin to happen. Whenever she puts the pyjamas on and touches the picture of a particular dog, a magical rainbow bubble surrounds her and she is able to call on various dogs from the shelter, to help her save the day.
With Kate’s warm writing style, she naturally weaves in main character Harriet’s autism and some of the ways she navigates the world using repetition, stimming and other behaviours that reflect her being neurodivergent. Stimming refers to self-stimulating behaviours, that usually include repetitive movements or sounds, often to calm or soothe.
The world’s happiest and most dog-friendly superhero is here! A brand new adventure for junior readers from Kate Foster.
Meet Harriet Hound. She’s eight years old and loves dogs!
But Harriet has something else that makes her super … the power to summon the dogs from her family’s rescue shelter every time there’s trouble afoot.
Whether it’s a carnival catastrophe, a sudden storm, or vanishing vegetables, Harriet and her best dog friends use their super special talents and problem-solving skills to save the day!
As Harriet travels through the story, she encounters three different situations requiring both her superhero assistance, and the help of different dogs from the shelter. This includes the case of The Vanishing Vegetables, The Sudden Storm, and The Carnival Catastrophe.
In each situation, Harriet calls on different dogs for their special skills and talents. As she and the dogs solve the problems together, the other characters in the story are unaware that Harriet is magic, or that the dogs are indeed the ones at Hound’s shelter. They fall in love with the dogs and one by one, they are adopted by the people Harriet and her hounds have been helping. Harriet is always sad to say goodbye to the dogs, but very happy that they are finding loving homes.
Sophie Beer’s illustrations are drawn in black and white and beautifully complement Kate’s writing. They remind me of old comic strips from the newpapers and are soft and loosely drawn, allowing the story to flow. At the end of each adventure, there are fact sheets about different breeds of dogs and at the very end, Harriet gives some lovely tips on how to decide whether you and your family are the right fit for a rescue dog.
All of the children at Harriet’s school are autistic and the story highlights that autistic people are not all the same. It is lovely to read a story where the superhero is autistic and where these parts of Harriet are not the main focus of the narrative, nor are they didactic. The idea is clearly to be inclusive, to show diversity in stories and to allow Harriet, an autistic child, to shine in her starring role.
The book is easy to read and can also be picked up and put down again, as there are three different adventures. It would be a great story for introducing children to neurodiversity, but also, for children who simply enjoy stories featuring dogs, magic and adventures. Kate uses descriptive language in capital letters throughout the story, especially to reflect sounds, colours and emotions, which gives a lovely sensory experience when reading the story aloud.
Published by the fabulous Walker Books, Harriet Hound is perfect for ages 6 – 10 and is available now.