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Hilarious Horrid Henry
Horrid Henry's Underpants - Francesca Simon
Member Name: jo1976
Horrid Henry's Underpants - Francesca Simon
Date: 26/03/11, updated on 17/05/12 (95 review reads)
Advantages: Laugh out loud funny
Disadvantages: Might give kids some ideas to outwit their parents!
My eight year old son and myself have been working our way through Francesca Simon's excellent series of Horrid Henry stories over recent months. Horrid Henry is a character guaranteed to be a firm favourite with boys (and I'd imagine girls) between the ages of around five to ten. Throughout the series of novels, Horrid Henry manages to live up to his nickname and gets up to all sorts of mischief and naughty behaviour, often at the expense of his rather nauseating little brother, Perfect Peter.
This particular book is a collection of four short stories; Horrid Henry Eats a Vegetable, Horrid Henry's Underpants, Horrid Henry's Sick day and Horrid Henry's Thank You Letter. Out of the numerous Horrid Henry books so far - all of which have been excellently written and entertaining- this one has to be my personal favourite so far with the Underpants and Thank You Letter stories quite literally making me laugh out loud as I was reading!
Each of the stories contains elements that are recognisable from everyday family life, making this a book that kids and parents alike can immediately relate to. Horrid Henry Eats a Vegetable, for instance, looks at Henry's attempts to avoid eating his greens (whilst trying to fool his long-suffering parents that he's eaten them.) Fortunately, my boys are quite good with their veggies and will eat most kinds but they are certainly picky eaters in other ways so I can totally empathise with Henry's parents as they resort to bribery to encourage Horrid Henry to eat healthily. This is one story where Horrid Henry's has the tables turned on him though and his attempts at outwitting his parents are, for once, unsuccessful. This was a welcome change from a parent's perspective as I don't want my children getting too many ideas about how to fool me!
Horrid Henry's Underpants is one of my personal favourites and it also had my son giggling too. We've all been given totally inappropriate presents from well-meaning relatives and here Horrid Henry ends up getting a pair of frilly pink girl's pants from an Auntie! Following a rather unlikely (but incredibly funny) series of events, Henry ends up wearing these to school and has to come up with an ingenious plan to avoid getting discovered wearing girls' knickers at PE. Anything involving pants (or bums and farts) is guaranteed to appeal to young boys' sense of humour so this one is a really funny read. The only confusing aspect in this story was the use of the word 'debagging' which was something that neither I or my son had heard of before. From the context of the story, it sounds as though it's the 'art' of pulling somebody's trousers down to reveal their pants!
Horrid Henry's Sick Day is another fun story with a ring of truth, as Henry tries to wrangle a day off school by feigning illness. I can imagine this is the kind of story that some parents might be reluctant to read to their youngsters just in case it gives their kids any ideas about new tactics! Fortunately, this is another tale where Henry's naughtiness backfires on him in the end.
Out of the four stories, Horrid Henry's Thank You Letter is definitely the funniest and really confirms Henry's reputation as a thoroughly rude but incredibly resourceful boy. Here, he has to complete the loathed task of writing thank you letters to his relatives and, as ever, tries to come up with a lazy alternative. This story features 'handwritten' examples of the letters that Henry comes up with. He invents the 'no thank you' letter for the crap presents he received and ends with a request for money next time. This is the sort of letter that many of us wish we had the guts to write! His inventiveness leads him to roll this out as a money-making venture to his school friends, coming up with a one size fits all standardised letter with multiple choice options! I found this really hilarious, probably more so than my son did, to be honest. The copies of the letters really added to the sense that this was a real letter and I couldn't help but admire Henry's total cheek and his entrepreneurial skills! The only disappointment with this story was the ending. I do find some of the stories can end quite abruptly and many of them have the potential to become full-length stories in their own right, rather than just short stories.
Like all of the stories in this series, the words are brought to life beautifully by Tony Ross' fun line drawings. This is one for confident readers as some of the vocabulary can fairly tricky but the books are such good fun that any parent would be mad to give up the opportunity to read this to their kids! As with all of the Horrid Henry books, this one comes highly recommended.
Summary: An excellent fun read for kids and parents alike