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Harry's Mad by Dick King-Smith

Harry's Mad

by Dick King-Smith

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Lots of fun and very nicely written.
A young boy inherits a parrot from his great uncle.
Surprises, talent and a special friendship pave the way in this exciting book. ( )
  StoryB | Aug 31, 2010 |
“Fanciful” Harry Holdsworth is delighted to find out that an unknown Great-Uncle has left him “his most cherished possession” in his will. He dreams of a mansion, motor vehicles, and “an actual treasure chest”. Initially, he is disappointed to receive instead only Madison, an African Grey parrot. But Madison turns out to be very talkative and an ideal companion- intelligent, competitive, witty. So Harry is devastated when Mad interrupts a burglary in the house, and gets himself stolen instead…


This is a story with great characters, and a fast-moving (if fairly predictable) plot.
After Mad gets stolen, the story continues to follow both him and the Holdsworth family, as they try to adapt to life without each other. Mad escapes, but struggles to find his way home. Harry mopes about feeling lonely, while Mr. Holdsworth makes every effort to find Mad. Eventually Mr Holdsworth decides on a different solution, which has surprising consequences.

It is really the character of Mad who makes this book so enjoyable. He learned to speak by spending the first half of his life with Harry’s Great-Uncle, a Linguistics Professor. Here he also watched numerous movies, picked up a variety of accents, and developed numerous skills and tastes which are beneficial to him fitting in with the whole Holdsworth family. The passages describing how they all spend their leisure time together are always fun to read.

From this book the reader can learn a lot about some of the finer points of American culture. Harry’s Great-Uncle George lived in America, while Harry and his family are Londoners. So when Mad makes the transfer to the other side of the world, lots of funny little misunderstandings crop up. For example, Harry’s mother keeps worrying about whether Mad is toilet-trained. Harry talks (incomprehensibly to Mad) about ‘going to the lav’, while Madison confuses them by talking about ‘going to the bathroom’. Similar complications arise with ‘cookies’ and ‘biscuits’, but everybody manages to understand and enjoy the menu Madison puts together for Thanksgiving!

I received this book for a birthday at about the age of 8, when my exasperated mother walked into a bookstore and complained that her daughter had read everything and could the assistant recommend anything new? I have read it probably about ten times since then, and though I long ago memorised all the jokes, reading it still makes me smile.
  mybookshelf | Jul 16, 2010 |
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Most people walk down stairs, putting one foot more or less carefully in front of the other, and perhaps holding on to the banisters. Not Harry Holdsworth, oh no, not he!
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679886885, Paperback)

"Harry's parents and friends think he's crazy because he acts out the rich fantasies of his 10-year-old imagination. And when his eccentric American uncle dies and leaves Harry a parrot named Madison (Mad), they're convinced of it. A believable, satisfying animal fantasy, with memorable characterizations and playful humor...a sprightly read-aloud."--Publishers Weekly

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:19 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Harry's legacy from his great-uncle, a talking parrot, proves to be a much more exciting gift than he ever imagined.

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