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Jessica (R.) Harper (1949-) - Sidelights

review nora shoes cat

Jessica Harper has used her creative talents in a variety of ways during her lifetime. Beginning as an actress, she has acted in more than a dozen movies, including Stardust Memories, Pennies from Heaven, My Favorite Year, and Minority Report, as well as numerous television and Broadway and Off-Broadway appearances. In 1994, she produced her first of a half dozen award-winning music CDs for children, and in 1999, released her first children's book.

In I Forgot My Shoes, everyone in the book has forgotten something (an overcoat, purse, paper route, or backpack), including the narrator, who has forgotten her shoes. In I'm Not Going to Chase the Cat Today, illustrated by Harper's sister Lindsay Harper duPont, a dog wakes up from a nap and decides that he is not going to chase the cat today. When the cat realizes he is not going to get chased, he decides that he really does not care for chasing mice and is not going to chase them anymore. The mice, in turn, decide not to bother the human race today. School Library Journal's Linda Ludke commented that "the engaging repetition and rhyme of the text begs to be read aloud."

In Nora's Room, also illustrated by duPont, Mom and the other children can only imagine what is gong on behind Nora's closed door, as all kinds of strange, loud noises emanate. Written in verse, they decide that it "Sounds like hippos at a hippo hop, or when you pick up a piano and let it drop." Nora's Room has also been recorded by Harper on compact disc.

Lizzie's Do's and Don'ts concerns a mother and daughter who feel that there are too many "don'ts," and not enough "do's," so they come up with some alternatives to "don't." Laurie von Mehren wrote in School Library Journal, "The simple, engaging pictures focus attention on the characters' relationship and match the fun-loving mood of the story." According to a Kirkus Reviews critic, "with the same panache of their previous collaborations . . ., the Harper sisters create a spunky tale about the woes and challenges of growing up."


Harper told SATA: "I've written and sung seven CDs for children, inspired by my own kids, and my first books were based on the songs. I've written mostly in rhyme, as I enjoy the intellectual exercise and the inspiration I hope it will give children to understand more about language and its rhythms by playing with it. My latest book, which will be published in 2006, is my first in prose. It's been interesting to note the differences and similarities between writing prose and poetry. Both are difficult and both are satisfying."


Biographical and Critical Sources

BOOKS


Harper, Jessica, Nora's Room, illustrated by Lindsay Harper duPont, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.


PERIODICALS


Booklist, November 1, 1998, Cindy Lombardo, review of

Forty Winks, p. 515; November 1, 1999, Ilene Cooper, review of I Forgot My Shoes, p. 538; April 15, 2000, Ilene Cooper, review of I'm Not Going to Chase the Cat Today, p. 1550; July, 2001, Connie Fletcher, review of Nora's Room, p. 2019; February 15, 2004, Todd Morning, review of I Like Where I Am, p. 1062.

Good Housekeeping, May, 2000, Beth Johnson, "A Mom and Her Songs," p. 28.

Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 1999, review of I Forgot My Shoes, p. 1226; May 15, 2001, review of Nora's Room, p. 740; March 1, 2002, review of Lizzy's Do's and Don'ts, p. 335.

Publishers Weekly, March 9, 1998, review of Forty Winks, p. 29; January 10, 2000, review of Rhythm in My Shoes, p. 24; May 29, 2000, review of I'm Not Going to Chase the Cat Today, p. 82; July 2, 2001, review of Nora's Room, p. 74; September 10, 2001, review of Inside Out, p. 28; March 25, 2002, review of Lizzy's Do's and Don'ts, p. 64.

School Library Journal, August, 1998, Kirsten Martindale, review of Forty Winks, p. 80; October, 1999, John Sigwald, review of I Forgot My Shoes, p. 114; May, 2000, Linda Ludke, review of I'm Not Going to Chase the Cat Today, p. 142, and Beverly Bixler, review of Rhythm in My Shoes, p. 74; July, 2001, Debbie Stewart, review of Nora's Room, p. 82; July, 2002, Laurie von Mehren, review of Lizzy's Do's and Don'ts, p. 92.

Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), July 21, 2002, review of Lizzy's Do's and Don'ts, p. 5.


ONLINE


Jessica Harper Home Page, http://www.jessicaharper.com/ (March 19, 2004).

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