Horrible Harriet and the Terrible Tantrum
A&U Children’s, 2021
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
Horrible Harriet lives in a nest in the roof of the school. All the other children are scared of her. But she has decided it is time for a change – she is going to be the Good Girl that everyone likes. But no matter how hard she tries, she can’t convince her classmates that she has changed.
Harriet is convinced it is because up in her room , locked in a cage is a Terrible Tantrum. Even though she treats it like a pampered pet, Harriet refuses to let it out because she knows it won’t behave as it becomes more and more demanding and frightening. And the morning she discovers it has escaped and taken her seat in class, she just knows that this was going to be a challenging day…
Leigh Hobbs was the Australian Children’s Laureate 2016-2017, acknowledged for all the splendid characters he has brought into children’s lives over the years including Old Tom, The Freaks in 4F and Mr Chicken. He first introduced us to Horrible Harriet in 2002 and this new episode celebrates her 20th anniversary. He has a knack for creating characters that really appeal to his readers and Harriet is no exception. Everyone will see a part of themselves in her which means, that despite her behaviour, she resonates and when she tries to be good there is a certain sympathy for her well-intentioned but mis-directed efforts.
A great opportunity to introduce students to this character. follow her adventures and talk about how we can manage ourselves in all sorts of situations, recognise the triggers that will release the Temper Tantrum and what can be done to keep it contained. By making the Temper Tantrum a separate physical entity Hobbs cleverly separates it so it can be examined and managed dispassionately, enabling the child to also look at their behaviour at arm’s length.