Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Getting to YES! Hypnosis Harry by Catherine Bailey


"NO toys in the toaster."

"NO robot dragons before 7 a.m."

But an infomercial on television offers Harry an inspiration--a way to procure permanent positive responses from his parents--HYPNOSIS!

Harry digs out his grandpa's old pocket watch and practices a slow steady pendulum swing in front of his cat. But it's a little hard to tell if his technique is working, since the cat sleeps most of the time anyway.

But he hits paydirt with the tot next door.

"Look deep into my eyes....

You... are... tired... of ... your... toys..."

Flushed with power, Harry proceeds to hypnotize his parents. As their eyes glaze over, he whispers...

"From now on, you will always say yes!"

"For dinner, I would like cupcakes. With a side of bacon."

At last Harry is in control. His parents wordlessly order anything he requests--a drum kit, crates of comic books, a trampoline, fireworks, and, not one, but two monkeys! He sacks the babysitter, and bans broccoli from the house.

Harry can do whatever he wants. He can do the forbidden--let his baby sister dig in the garden, enjoy free rein with a glue bottle, and even, horrors, touch the goldfish!

But things begin to go awry. The robot wrecks the rec room. The monkeys run amok. And when Harry invites his classmates to climb the tricerotops skeleton at the museum, they are forbidden to come over to Harry's house any more.

Still, Harry remains the happy hypnotist--until one day at the park, perfecting his ninja leap from the swing, he crashes into a girl on a bike. Her mom rushes to comfort her and point out that riding too close to the swings is a no-no. Harry's foot hurts, but his parents just sit on the grass in a stupor.

Harry looked to his parents for sympathy.

They drooled gently on their shoes.

Harry limps home, his zombie-like parents trailing behind. The monkeys are making even more of a mess of the house, with pizza boxes piled high, and melting ice cream all over the carpet.

At last Harry understands why parents say NO, what all those rules really mean.

Be safe.

Be nice

I love you.

And Harry knows just how to snap his parents out of their trance. He begs them to wake up and even say NO sometimes.

All's well that ends well--with a thorough housecleaning, a bath for Harry, and a review of the rules, in Catherine Bailey's hilarious latest, Hypnosis Harry (Sky Pony Press, 2016), in which our young hero learns that having permissive parents isn't all it's cracked up to be. Bailey's theme goes down easy, with a hug from Harry's parents, in a gentle cautionary tale about the perils of too much freedom, bolstered by artist Sarita Rich's wryly humorous page design which reinforces the premise with illustrations of misbehaviors that spill past the page margins and crafty use of fonts that highlight the highjinks. This story of wish-fulfillment fantasy is as much fun for young readers as a barrel of monkeys.

But is hypnosis on a permanent hiatus in Harry's household? Maybe, maybe not.... The final page shows Baby Sis in possession of the pocket watch, busy mesmorizing the monkeys....

Bailey's earlier book was her 2015 Mind Your Monsters. (see my review here.)

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