About the Holiday
The American Hiking Society established today’s holiday to encourage families, friends, groups, and individuals to get outside and experience the fun and relaxation of discovering new paths and new places. Even if you’re only able to take a short walk during lunchtime or after work, getting out in nature gives you new perspectives and clears the mind—it’s great exercise too! So gather some friends or your family and head out the door for a short (or a long) hike today!
Harriet Can Carry It
Written by Kirk Jay Mueller | Illustrated by Sarah Vonthron-Laver
Harriet Huff is a kangaroo who every day carries the mail in her pouch, delivering it all over town. Her job has left her “feeling quite frail,” She decides to take a day off and hike to the beach with her Joey where they can “relax and be free.” The next morning they wake up and prepare for a fun day. Harriet gathers their beach towels, Joey, and his favorite toy and tucks them gently into her pouch. She gets no further than the bottom of her porch, however, before she hears “someone yell, ‘HEY!’”
“It was old Wanda Wombat, so nosey and grouchy, / Asking, ‘That a beach towel hanging out of your pouchy? / Can I come to the beach? Can I come with YOU? / Will you carry my beach chair? Can I please come too?’” Harriet stammers, “W-e-l-l…” as she considers her plans to relax, but before she can properly answer, Wanda invites herself along, telling Harriet that she has room in her pouch “for tons of stuff.” “‘YOU CAN CARRY IT, HARRIET, so I can come too.’”
They walk up a hill together, Harriet sweating a bit with the effort of carrying the beach chair that has replaced Joey in her pouch. Suddenly, they hear someone shout, “‘STOP!’” It’s Wallaby Wendy who is also on her way to the beach. She asks Harriet if she will carry her swim fins. Harriet hesitates. “‘W-e-l-l, I’m not sure…’” she says. But Wanda is there with the answer. “‘She has lots of room. She has loads of space / For tones of stuff in her big pouchy place. She is an incredibly kind kangaroo. HARRIET CAN CARRY IT, so you can come too.’”
They start up again all in a row and it isn’t too long before someone says “‘WHOA!’” It was Kenny Koala, who in his own surfer-dude way asks Harriet if she can carry his board so he can come with them too. Harriet takes a moment to think—but it’s a moment Wanda has no problem filling, and so Harriet acquires Kenny’s surfboard too. “AHOY!” beckons Marcie, a marsupial mouse, “Who’d made the mistake of leaving her house / With a huge heavy kayak strapped to her back. / Her long plastic paddle poked out of its sack.” Wanda assures her, too, that Harriet can carry it, and with the kayak stowed in front, the group takes off again.
Next they happen upon the Dingo twins who need help with their flying ring—an easy addition to Harriet’s pouch according to Wanda. A little farther down the path they encounter Bill Bandicoot who can no longer hold his beach umbrella. Wanda takes a look at Harriet and for the first time sees that she looks tired and that her pouch is nearly bursting. This time Wanda asks, “‘WILL YOU CARRY IT, HARRIET, so he can come too?”
The usual hesitant Harriet has had enough, and she answers “‘NO!’” In fact, she removes everyone’s equipment and tosses it on the sand. “‘I won’t carry your stuff,’” she says. “‘I just QUIT!’” Just then Paddy O’Possum comes along in his pickup truck and offers to take everyone and their gear to the beach. “Now Harriet felt cheerful, thankful, and calm, / And Joey was happy that she was his mom.” With her baby snuggled into her pouch, Harriet finds a perfect spot where they can unwind and “relax by the sea.”
Following the story are two pages of intriguing facts on the various Australian animals depicted in Harriet Can Carry It.
Kirk Jay Mueller’s funny story of a too-nice kangaroo whose relaxing beach vacation is hijacked by a meddlesome neighbor will have kids laughing out loud as Harriet acquires more and bigger belongings on her hike to the shore. Mueller’s rhymed verses wonderfully escalate the plot just as Harriet’s pouch grows as the requests mushroom. As each beach-goer hails Harriet in a new way, kids will wonder what could possibly come next and will delight in the repeated phrases that invite participation on their part. The story can also lead to discussions on how to say “No” when needed and also how to resolve issues before they may cause hurt feelings.
Sarah Vonthron-Laver’s vibrant illustrations of Harriet’s neighborhood and the Australian landscape put the focus on kind-hearted Harriet and the animals she meets and enhances the story’s humor. Wanda the Wombat in her star-shaped sunglasses and flowery flip-flops marches ahead, pointing the way, oblivious to Harriet’s woes. The other animals—accurate cartoon representations of their real counterparts—are equally unaware as they hand Harriet their gear. Harriet’s pouch bulges with the beach items as Harriet finds clever ways to accommodate it all.
Harriet Can Carry It makes for a fun story time read and a perfect take-along book for beach outings or any hike.
Ages 4 – 7
Star Bright Books, 2014 | ISBN 978-1595726766
To learn more about Kirk Jay Mueller, his books, and his music—plus to listen to a song about Harriet—visit his website!
You can connect with Sarah Vonthron-Laver on Facebook!
Take a Hike Day Activity
You Can Carry It! Book Bag
True booklovers can’t go anywhere without a book (or two or three) to read along the way. With this easy craft you can turn a cloth bag into a kid-size book bag!
- Printable Templates: Books to Read Template | Books to Love Template
- Small cloth bag, available from craft or sewing stores—Recyclable Idea: I used the bag that sheet sets now come in
- Cloth trim or strong ribbon, available from craft or sewing stores—Recyclable Idea: I used the cloth handles from shopping bags provided from some clothing stores
- Scraps of different colored and patterned cloth. Or use quilting squares, available at craft and sewing stores
- Pen or pencil for tracing letters onto cloth
- Small sharp scissors (or cuticle scissors) for cutting out the center of the letters
- Fabric glue
- Thread (optional)
- Needle (optional)
- Print the sayings and cut out the letters
- Trace letters onto different kinds of cloth
- Cut out cloth letters
- Iron cloth bag if necessary
- Attach words “Books to Read” to one side of bag with fabric glue
- Attach words “Books to Love” to other side of bag with fabric glue
- Cut cloth trim or ribbon to desired length to create handles
- Glue (or sew) handles onto the inside edge of bag
Picture Book Review