Harvey’s Hideout, Russell Hoban, Plough Publishing, 2018.
Harvey Muskrat and his sister, Mildred, find themselves in a continual feud.
Originally published in 1969, Russell Hoban’s classic, much like Bread and Jam for Frances or Charlie the Tramp, Harvey’s Hideout has a hint of realism. Whether muskrats or humans, siblings fight. Both siblings have their lesser qualities, which seem to be the entry of frustration with the other. Harvey is inconsiderate, while Mildred is bossy.
But, as Father Muskrat reminds them, it does not mean that they are “stupid and no-good” or “mean and rotten.”
After the punishment, the siblings still fight. This time about who started the trouble. Mildred heads off to a tea party with friends where “little brothers are not invited.” While Harvey goes to a secret clubhouse where “big sisters are not allowed to be members.”
What the reader learns is that there is no clubhouse that Harvey goes to. It is a secret little place where he hangs out alone, reading comic books. And Mildred? There is no party, just her and her doll. They are both lonely.
Eventually, the siblings realize that they will have more fun if they play together.
Hoban’s story is a good reminder that sometimes siblings need a break from each other, and sometimes the best play date is with a sibling. It is important for parents and educators to remember that just as we need space to breathe, so do our children. But, as parents and educators, we can help them navigate the emotions associated with that urge to build a raft and float the river.
Parents and educators can also use this book to talk with children about getting along with their siblings. Before things get too out of hand, ala Cain and Abel, it is always good to talk with children about how to handle fights and disagreements with siblings.
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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a digital review copy.