Among the numerous books that Dick King-Smith wrote, I've noted that his farm-based stories with animal protagonists tend to be stronger books where he is in his element. Hence I've thought more fondly of The Fox Busters, Saddlebottom and even Babe the Sheep-Pig. Harry's Mad is different from these animal stories but still shows King-Smith at his sparkling best.
This story makes you laugh and think at the same time. I like how King-Smith alludes to the story of Puss in Boots. When Harry first learns that he is to inherit his American great-uncle's parrot he is not thrilled, very like how the miller's youngest sun is not thrilled that his father only left him the cat. However, Mad the parrot surprises everyone, brightening up his life and also the lives of his parents. As such he forms a deep friendship with Harry. Trouble strikes when he is birdnapped by a burglar, but of course he finds his way home after some hair-raising adventures. However, while Harry is an important protagonist, Mad is the star of the story. His character is a combination of Puss in Boots and Passepartout and his antics make us laugh.
King-Smith tells the story with freshness, humour, verve and wit. There are various touches of wry humour, such as in the first part where the word mad is used to imply crazy until the coming of Mad the parrot. I love how he offers the reader precognitive phrases. For instance, when he presents the envelope with Great-uncle George's will, it is a precognition of Harry owning Mad. I am also fond of the incident where Mad imitates Humphrey Bogart when the cat tries to eat him. I am also fond of the way King-Smith matches his emotions. The reader sympathises and commiserates with Harry after the burglar birdnaps Mad. However emotions heat up when Harry receives Mad's phone call and goes out to rescue him.
This is a funny Dick King-Smith story and it is worthy of his best efforts. It will appeal greatly to those who love Babe the Sheep Pig.