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I bought this book as a stocking filler for my son (5) this christmas. He loves watching Horrid Henry on CITV but I love reading to him and allowing him to use his own imagination to create the pictures. This book won the Galaxy British Book Awards Childrens Book of the Year 2008.
***** Horrid Henry *****
Horrid Henry is written by Francesca Simon who began to write children's books full time after having her son. She was previously a medevilist and freelance journalist. She is now the author of over 40 books with the Horrid Henry series being by far the most sucessful. Horrid Henry is - well his name says it all- horrid! He encompasses the 'horrible' parts within us all and mingles them altogether. You know when you have something awful going through your mind or at the tip of your tongue, well he wouldn't hold back.
I can imagine that this is what attracts children to the books and this lovable rogue. In a world where children are increasingly in 'controlled and supervised environments' these stories let kids know its ok to think like kids (well to a limited degree). Horrible Henry is made to look even worse by his younger brother Perfect Peter, again the name says all you really need to know. A super squeaky clean good- too shoes of a snitch. The other characters similarily have equally descriptive names, Moody Margaret, Sour Susan, Stuck -Up Steve,Goody- goody Gordon, Clever Claire, Vain Violet, Gorgeous Gurinder,Kung- Fu Kate, Singing Soria, Tidy Ted, Rude Ralph, Greedy Graham and Beefy Bert.
Living with what he perceives as the meanest parents in the world who don't understand his needs, a perfect brother and moody friends is it any wonder Henry gets up to horrible tricks.
**** The Book ****
There are four stories in this book all around 20 - 25 pages long, so perfect length for a bedtime story. These stories are nothing other than pure genuis. It has plots so crazy it will have adults laughing never mind the children. The book is probably aimed at children 7+ in my opinion. There are some illustrations in black and white but not what a younger child would appreciate. Also the text is a fair but not big so would probably be managable for independant reading at around 7 or 8.
*** 1 Horrid Henry and The Abominable Snowman ***
The story starts with a snowball fight between Moody Margaret and Sour Susan, as you can guess with names like that having snowballs thrown at you isn't your idea of fun, Like girls (sorry had to be said) they end up arguing and storming off bragging about who is going to win. At this point Horrid Henry steps and demands to know who is going to win what. Using typical Horrid Henry techniques of blackmail and deceptiveness Henry finds out about a snowman competition with a prize of a year's free supply of ice cream. Dreaming of the ice cream Henry plans his snowman- not just any snowman but one with fangs, claws and horns- an abominable snowman. Setting to work Peter decides he wants to help Henry and they could build a bunny snowman. Of course this doesn't go down well with Henry who tells him to build his own. In typical Peter style he tells his 'Muuuuuuum' that Henry won't build a snowman with him and mum tells Henry not to 'be horrid'. Peter eventually decides to build his own and when they are all finished they compare them. Henty's is the biggest with a viking horned helmet and fangs, Margaret and Susan have built a ballerina with a tutu and Peter a tiny 'long, thin, lumpy body with two stones stuck in the top for eyes. That night Horrid Henry wakes and decides to check his snowman is definately the biggest. Margaret had made hers bigger with a flowery hat. Henry decides to put Peters snowman on top of his own, justifying himself that someone might trip over it otherwise. In the morning Henry oversleeps and wakes up to the door bell. A man from the Frosty Freeze ice-cream factory is at the door declaring the winnig snowman to be in the garden. It turns out that the snow has melted overnight and all that is left is Perfect Peters snowman. Henry's horrible plan has backfired again and he is left howling.
*** 2 Horrid Henry's Rainy Day ***
Horrid Henry is bored after being banned from the TV and computer. Unfairly of course because grown ups really don't understand the desire to do something you are told not to and even worse as it was Perfect Peter telling tales that resulted in punishment otherwise no one would have known. Complaining he is bored to the 'meanest, most horrible parents in the world' he is answered with helpful suggestions such as read a book, do his somework, tidy his room, empty the dishwasher and empty the bins. Surprisingly enough ideas that are not really what Henry had in mind. With onlt one thing left to occupy him he sets out to annoy Perfect Peter. Sneaky Henry calls Peter names and Peter complains Henry suggests that Peter could write a list of ten names he didn't want to be called and for £1 he would not use the names. (Why didn't I think of that for my little sister?) Of course after recieving the list Henry alters the names on the list and taunts his brother some more. Peter then tells his 'Muuuuum' who punishes Henry be removing a weeks pocket money. Henry of course tries to justify himself. 'I was only telling the truth, he really is a frog'.
Shouting at his mum 'You'll all be sorry when I'm dead' Henry is left contemplating his famalies reaction to his death decides that although haunting people would be fun, watching them enter his room and use his things wouldn't be. Henry then decides to write his will. This is absolutely hillarious. Leaving nasty things to people he doesnt like such as sweet papers and a muddy stick to the toad aka Perfect Peter and holey socks to his cousin. His will then turns into a bit of a swap list' you can have my Goo- Shooter only if you give me your football, your bike and a computer game'. He then decides that it would be more fun to recieve things than give his away so decides to write to people to tell them he has left them something great with the hope they will reciprocate. Finally Heenry's thoughts move to all the things his parents will no longer need when they are in the old peoples home, deciding to test driuve these items in his bedroom Henry is baffled by his 'selfish parents' demands that he puts them back.
***3 Moody Margarets Makeover ***
Henry is sitting in his Purple Hand fort (his garden) and hears money mentioned in the garden next door. Moody Margaret is doing Makeovers on her 'friends' with ends in the catiness of jealous girls. At first Henry thinks the idea of anyone paying you to make them look completely different is ludicrous until he sees Gorgeous Gurinder pay Margaret £2 to look like a clown in Henry's opinion. Henry then decides to 'borrow' Margarets idea so arming himself with his mums make up he tries looking for business by insulting his parents. Having no luck with them he undercuts Margaret in a price war and sets to work making over Kung Fu Kate and Singing Soraya. After doing Kates make up he does his hair by emptying a pot of glue on it! Then doing Soroyas hair he adds in paint. Henry is pleased with his work as they both now look completely different. Contemplating raising his fee to £10 mum notices her lip stick has gone missing. Kate and Soraya are not best pleased with their new looks and neither is mum when she sees. She sents him to his room and Henry thinks he may need a little more practice. Henry bursts into Peters room and offers make over to Perfect Peter, Tidy Ted and Goody- Goody Gordon.
*** 4. Horrid Henry's Author Visit ***
Henry Wakes up excted about going to school (unheard of for him) because it is book week and his favourite author TJ Fizz is coming to visit. The excitement made Henry hungry so opening a packet of crisps under his desk he is caught by the Battle Axe and sent out the class. Worse still apart from missing TJ Fizz he has to sit in the back of Perfect Peters class and listen to Milksop Miles read Happy Nappy. The class start singing 'Oh I'm a happy nappy, a happy zappy nappy.' Trying to escape fails and Henry ends up dancing to the Happy Nappy and having to put on a bright blue nappy, Henry screams and Miss Lovely and Miles assume hes scared of the nappy. Claiming to be nappy- phobic Henry makes it back to his own class just in time for TJ to begin reading.
**** Overall ****
As you can see these plots are crazy yet so hillarious. Francesca Simon has performed an act of pure genuis in their writing. Henry's thoughts are replayed as well as his actions so therefore his thought processes are clear and not to disimilar to things I can imagine my own son thinking. Perfect sharing stories to have you all laughing. The other thing is that of course as parents we say no, we set limits and we serve the consequences of breaking boundaries. Each time my son does something wrong and I 'punish' him I am told I am the meanest mum in the world and that he hates me. Reading Henry has helped him to recognise that all children have to listen to their parents.
Stereotypical and believable characters, insane yet brilliant plots and a genuine bad boy who just took it literally (thinks like a man). His horrid antics have a horrible habit of back firing.
My son like I said got this book for christmas but has asked to read it so often he can practically tell me the stories. This is probably more of a useful reflection on the book than my opinions.
I bought this book for £2.99 at my sons school book fair. It has an RRP of £4.99 but is selling currently on Amazon for £3.49 or an old copy for £0.01
I was going to list the others in the series but my review is already sooo long (sorry) I'll let you check them out for yourselves!