Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Horrid Henry (series) by Francesca Simon, illustrated by Tony Ross

Looking at my popular series characters (and not counting the sparkly ones) for beginning chapter books, the hapless male seems to be in. Horrible Harry is still going strong, Roscoe Riley is a new hit, even Diary of a Wimpy Kid, all feature more or less ineffectual boys. Whether or not they mean well, things always go wrong. Well, a new character is on the scene; a tough UK import, Horrid Henry makes sure that things always go wrong - for everybody else! These beginning chapter books are composed of four individual stories, each about a boy who revels in mischief and delights in his horrid behavior, to the despair of his helpless parents and teachers.

A huge hit in the UK, with his own tv show, Horrid Henry may find the going a little rougher over here. The heavy publicity has a somewhat frantic note, to my mind; continued emphasis on Henry's popularity in the UK doesn't necessarily translate to popularity in the US. I feel Tony Ross' illustrations to be a poor imitation of Quentin Blake although some kids seem to enjoy them. The writing is somewhat flat and the adult characters are Dahlishly exaggerated and one-dimensional. Henry's unremitting enjoyment of his horridness becomes stale after continued reading and he begins to come across as a somewhat lonely, unhappy and extremely irritating and nasty little boy.

But I'm not an 8-year-old boy, and Horrid Henry may very well find a happy crowd of co-conspirators. I'll be keeping an eye on him at our library to see how he does (no scribbling in the books, you horrid child!)

Verdict: This is an updated verdict - these have not been particularly popular. Kids are perfectly happy with Roscoe Riley, Horrible Harry, Ready Freddy, and similar stories. I've seen a couple parents veto this selection and it doesn't seem to be a good fit for our library.

Horrid Henry includes...
Horrid Henry's Perfect Day: Henry decides to behave perfectly, and discovers that it makes everyone else even more upset than when he's Horrid.
Horrid Henry's Dance Class: Henry sabotages his dance class and gets kicked out, much to his delight as he wanted karate lessons instead.
Horrid Henry and Moody Margaret: Henry meets his match in the changeable and aggressive Margaret when they try to play together.
Horrid Henry's Holiday: Henry, as usual, is unhappy with his parents' choice of holiday but when he tries to help out, they end up in the perfect holiday spot.

ISBN: 978-1402217753; Published April 2009 by Sourcebook; Review copies provided by the publisher and added to the library
Horrid Henry and the Mega-Mean Time Machine includes...
Horrid Henry's Hike: Fresh air? Henry is horrified! But he soon finds a way to sabotage the family hike and get back to the tv and Rapper Zapper vs. Terminator Gladiator
Horrid Henry and the Mega-Mean Time Machine: Henry plays a nasty trick on his brother, Perfect Peter
Perfect Peter's Revenge: Peter tries to get revenge for Henry's time-machine trick, but in the end it backfires and Henry wins, as usual
Horrid Henry Dines at Restaurant Le Posh: Henry only eats burgers. But his parents insist on dragging him to a fancy restuarant for a family dinner. Henry is ready to revolt, but he can't let Stuck-Up Steve, his cousin, win over him with a mean trick! In the end, only Henry enjoys the fine dining.

ISBN: 978-1402217807; Published April 2009 by Sourcebook; Review copies provided by the publisher and added to the library

Horrid Henry Tricks the Tooth Fairy includes...
Horrid Henry Tricks the Tooth Fairy: Everyone but Henry has lost a tooth, even Perfect Peter! Henry is determined to trick the Tooth Fairy somehow, but for once his tricks don't work!
Horrid Henry's Wedding: They're forcing Horrid Henry to be a ring bearer and wear awful, silly clothes! Well, they want him at the wedding? They've got him in all his horridness.
Moody Margaret Moves In: The only person nastier than Horrid Henry is Moody Margaret, and she's coming to stay for two weeks! Will Horrid Henry - and his family - survive?
Horrid Henry's New Teacher: It's time to break in a new teacher - and Horrid Henry knows just how to do it! This was the only story I found really funny, Henry shows a wickedly inventive imagination in this tale!

ISBN: 978-1402222757; Published April 2009 by Sourcebook; Review copies provided by the publisher and added to the library

Horrid Henry's Stinkbomb
Horrid Henry Reads a Book: Reading? Henry hates it. But for a ticket to a theme park, he'll do anything!
Horrid Henry's Stinkbomb: Horrid Henry and Moody Margaret attack each other's clubs; but there are traitors in their midst!
Horrid Henry's School Project: Horrid Henry hates working in groups. He'd do much better on his own....and he does! From his point of view, of course.
Horrid Henry's Sleepover: Nobody ever has Horrid Henry over for more than one night, so Henry is thrilled when the new boy invites him over. He has plenty of horrid things planned but somehow they all go awry!

ISBN: 978-1402217791; Published April 2009 by Sourcebook; Review copies provided by the publisher and added to the library

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