Harry and Hopper ISBN: 9781407111391
Published by Scholastic, 2009
Hopper, so called because he 'was as jumpy as a grasshopper' when Harry got him, is a lovely, spotty dog, and he and Harry are the closest of friends. Dad doesn't know it, but Hopper manages to sleep in Harry's bed each night, and he and Harry cuddle up, 'their eyes gleaming with mischief and delight'. When Hopper is killed in an accident, Harry cannot believe it. He refuses to help dad bury the dog, and outwardly he seems the same, but inwardly he is changed forever. He can't sleep in his room because of his memories of Hopper, so dad, understandingly, makes up a bed for him on the sofa. One night he sees Hopper outside the window and the two of them have a joyous reunion, playing outside in the moonlight. This continues for a night or two, although Hopper is gradually fading, and the last night Harry must go outside to pick up Hopper and bring him in. He has become 'as wispy as winter fog, as cold as winter air', and they spend one last night curled up together. Harry is able to say goodbye. This book won the 2010 Kate Greenaway Medal and deservedly so. The text and tender illustrations are remarkable. Lots of cross hatching and shadow, combined with the starkness of a white background in some of the pictures, perfectly show Harry's isolation after Hopper's death and also their joy in their friendship. Intensely moving, it gives us a solid picture of a child letting go of his grief in his own way and also of an understanding and loving father who allows him to do so.