Simon, Francesca. Horrid Henry. Illustrated by Tony Ross. SourceBooks Jabberwocky, 2009. 90 pages. $4.99. ISBN 9781402217753.
Rude, despicable, manipulative, and scheming, yet somehow hilarious, Horrid Henry will delight fans of humorous realistic fiction. Who doesn’t enjoy reading about a protagonist who is just so horrifically naughty? This installment begins with “Horrid Henry's Perfect Day,” in which he emulates the perfect behavior of his brother, Perfect Peter. Without the sound of brothers fighting to wake them, Henry’s parents don’t rise in time to get the boys to Cub Scouts. Perfect Peter, scooped of his role, is furious! What can he do but try out being horrid himself? Sometimes things for Henry just continue to go wrong, with all of his clever plans thwarted. Subsequent chapters include “Horrid Henry's Dance Class,” “Horrid Henry and Moody Margaret,” and “Horrid Henry's Holiday.”
Though Henry’s behavior and ideas are usually over-the-top, somehow they are just ridiculous enough so that it moves beyond offense and into hilarity. Horrid Henry could be used as an example text to highlight features of the genre of Humor or Realistic Fiction. His rudeness and scheming would delight as a class read-aloud.
There is something very satisfying about a character who gets up to such awful mischief. One of my favorite stories was when Horrid Henry decides to create a form letter so he will never have to write another thank-you note again.
Humor, Realistic Fiction, Family, Social Skills
The Ramona Quimby (Cleary) series, the Ruby Lu (Look) series, as well as The Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Kinney) series have a familiar tone of humorous situations, sibling relations, and friendship. (Though no one can match Henry’s diabolical scheming!)