HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Harry and the Terrible Whatzit
Author and Illustrator: Dick Gackenbach
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers, reprinted in 1984
ISBN-13: 978-0395287958 (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0395287952 (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-0899192239 (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0899192238 (Paperback)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 5 – 8
Rating: **** 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Gackenbach, Dick. Harry and the Terrible Whatzit (published in 1979 by Clarion Books). The main characters of this story are Harry, his mother, and the monster in his basement which he calls a Whatzit. Harry is scared of the basement and tells his mother, “Don’t go into the cellar.” So, when his mother goes down into the dark, dank cellar and then doesn’t return right away, Harry shoves aside his fears to search for her and confronts the terrible two-headed Whatzit. What will Harry do with that broom? And just where is his mother anyway? Author and illustrator Dick Gackenback takes a couple of the most common childhood fears, those of the unknown and the dark, and turns them into in a pleasingly scary yet funny story with large, reddish-orange, dusty-brown, and white drawings. There is a surprise ending. We all have fears, and this may help children to feel empowered to overcome their fears and to get rid of their own “monsters.”