Sunday, October 30, 2005

Francesca Simon

Stephanie Merritt interviews Francesca Simon, author of the wonderful Horrid Henry series today for the Guardian.

The Horrid Henry books focus on Henry trials and travails as the naughty child of "two liberal parents." They are truly funny and appeal to children who also like the Ramona books or My Naughty Little Sister.

Here's the interesting part:

  • "Surprisingly (or perhaps not), the Henry books have never found a US publisher, despite being published in 20 countries. 'The reason I'm always given is that they're too British which, considering I'm American, is very funny,' Simon says, grinning. 'I think they're just considered too subversive. But it's a very conservative climate there now and children's books are invested with great power; there's this idea the child might copy something. I always say to kids, "Henry is horrid so you don't have to be." It's the same reason adults love murder mysteries, not because they're going to go out and kill someone but because fiction allows you to explore these emotions in a safe way. But maybe they're afraid American kids might discover sibling rivalry.'"

These books are worth ordering online (Amazon and Powell's have copies in the U.S.) or looking for in a good bookstore. They're excellent bedtime read-alouds for both girls and boys who have a bit of naughty behavior in them.