Thursday, April 2, 2009

Review of Horrid Henry by Francesca Simon

Horrid Henry by Francesca Simon. Illustrated by Tony Ross. Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky, 2009.

Horrid Henry and the Mega-Mean Time Machine
Horrid Henry's Stinkbomb
Horrid Henry Tricks the Tooth Fairy

Horrid Henry isn't quite as bad as Jack Gantos' Rotten Ralph, but he's ever so much worse than Suzy Kline's Horrible Harry. He ruins dance class and the school play, turns a family camping trip into a wet disaster, and in general stomps his cantankerous way through life. It doesn't help that his little brother is Perfect Peter, who aims to be always agreeable and adorable, a ray of sunshine to parental eyes.

Kids might spend a nano-second wondering why on earth Henry has to be so bad all the time - but then they'll get on with the more important business of enjoying every second of Henry just doing what Henry has to do. Wouldn't we all love to just let our inner horridness flow, unchecked by such mundane considerations as parental and teacher disapproval? It's not always fun to be a grouch - his camping trip is pretty miserable as a result of his own unwillingness to have a good time - but on the other hand Perfect Peter's good behavior means that he is stuck always being prisoner when the kids play pirates.

Short sentences and chapters make this perfect for readers just moving from easy readers to chapter books. Tony Ross's exuberant Quentin Blake-like drawings enliven almost every page and bring out Henry's glowering charm to perfection. This paperback series is certain to be a hit with all sorts of kids - perfect, horrid, and in-between. After all, who can resist prose like this? "'I hate you!' shrieked Henry. He was a volcano pouring hot molten lava onto the puny human foolish enough to get in his way." (from Horrid Henry Tricks the Tooth Fairy). That puny human would be Perfect Peter, of course.

Originally published in the UK.

K - gr. 3

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