Bernice Gets Carried Away begins with a zinger: “It was a horrible, dreary day, and it suited Bernice’s mood just fine.” This young cat stands sulking behind a tree while her animal friends enjoy an outdoor birthday party. No doubt young readers will sympathize with Bernice’s plight, since birthday parties can frequently be filled with intense emotions and overwhelming disappointment.
Poor Bernice: Her piece of cake had no frosted rose; she got stuck with prune-grapefruit soda; and the piñata burst open before she got a turn. So she pounces at the sight of a bunch of colorful balloons, triumphantly shouting “MINE!” as she grabs them. Her victory is short-lived, because moments later, she floats away, straight up into the sky, where she comes face-to-face with a brooding black rain cloud.
Author Hannah E. Harrison’s plot is compelling, but the real star here is her stunning acrylic artwork, filled with realistic whiskers and strands of fur, and luminous colors that pop in just the right places. Harrison’s expressive menagerie of anthropomorphized animals is reminiscent of Rosemary Wells’ beloved characters, although drawn in finer detail.
As Bernice floats away, the muted tones of the clouds and tree trunks reflect her ill temper. Later, as Bernice pulls herself out of the doldrums, the world around her erupts into a symphony of bright blues, greens, pinks and purples. The story’s resolution (Bernice learns to share) seems simplistic, but nonetheless young readers will be drawn into this beautifully illustrated world.