At eleven years old, Harry Sue Clotkin already has a couple of strikes against her. She’s the only child of convicted felons, for one, and her best friend is a quadriplegic who won’t come out of his tree house (yes, you read that right). Her plan so far is to toughen up and head for the joint, but first she’s got to get Moonie Pie out of the bathtub, Spooner out of the swamp, and Homer out of the hole (you read that right, too).
For real? Before she can start the life of crime that will land her in the joint with her mom, Harry Sue needs to save a swarm of little kids from evil Granny Clotkin, whose in-home daycare should be labeled hazardous to your health. In addition, Violet Chump could use a good Samaritan, and Jolly Roger Chlorine and his crew need to learn that girls like Harry Sue do not take it on the chin.
Like Dorothy in her favorite story, The Wizard of Oz, Harry Sue’s got a long journey home. And she could use some help. Add Baba and J-Cat to Homer Price, and you have a crew only slightly less strange than the lion, the tin man and the scarecrow.
In this magical story about a young girl desperate for a mother’s love, Harry Sue discovers that surviving may be about ‘toughing up,’ but living is about reaching out and finding love in the most unlikely places.
Even if it feels at first like taking a sucker punch to the heart.
- 100 Books for Reading and Sharing, New York Public Library
- ALA Notable Book for 2006
- Summer Children’s Books Sense Picks 2005
- Judy Lopez Memorial Award 2006
- Michigan Notable Book for 2005
“By the end of this throat-catching but ultimately triumphant story of survival against the odds, readers will be glad to be one of Harry Sue’s road dogs.” —The Bulletin, Starred Review
“Hyperbolic and charming, Harry Sue is a triumphant symbol of the resilience of children.” —Booklist
“A riveting story, dramatically and well told, with characters whom readers won’t soon forget.” —School Library Journal
“Harry Sue is the must-read kids’ book of 2005. No question about it.” —Five Star Rating, Epinions.com
“…a highly original tour de force” —Five Star Rating, CommonSense Media
“A warm and deeply insightful novel” —Five Star Rating, Kidsread.com
“Between the craftsmanship, the issues and, especially, the high-interest, reader-friendly quality of this delightful tale written in joint jive, this is certainly a book that is custom made for teaching…” —Richie’s Picks
In “Harry Sue,” Sue explores the feelings, hopes and aspirations of a child whose parents are in prison. In the book, Harry Sue’s mom exists mostly in her daughter’s imagination, but Sue also wanted her young readers to know what it felt like from the mother’s perspective. She wants them to hear from real moms who have done time for drug-related offenses and are separated from their children while in prison or recovery programs. Sue worked with mothers in prison who were anxious to do something to help make up for their mistakes. They miss their children desperately. Many consented to use their own names and to write their most painful thoughts in the hope that they could somehow help others. Their children’s names have been changed to protect their privacy. Read More Poetry of Women Prisoners.
Family and Corrections Network
Since 1983, Family and Corrections Network (FCN) has provided ways for those concerned with families of the incarcerated to share information and experiences in an atmosphere of mutual respect. Visit their website here.
Q & A with Sue Stauffacher
You seem to have a thing with names. First Franklin Delano Donuthead and now Harry Sue Clotkin? What gives?
Did you know right away that she would be the character that she is?
Is she based on a girl you know?
Where did the idea for all that joint jive come from?
How did Dorothy from the “Wizard of Oz” work her way into Harry Sue’s heart?
Harry Sue’s real life is pretty rough. Do you really think kids can handle this kind of stuff?