Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Horrid Henry again

I feel like I'm becoming somewhat of an American advocate for the very funny, somewhat naughty Horrid Henry series.

David Altaner explains for why this popular British series, written by Francesca Simon (an American by birth), has not been published in the U.S. According to Scholastic, teachers complained! That's really too bad, because the Horrid Henry series fills a specific niche--one important for kids learning how to read chapter books fluently on their own. Henry's antics are funny enough (and just naughty enough) to keep kids reading.

Simon herself explains why the Horrid Henry series is such a hit with kids:
  • "Horrid Henry is about sibling rivalry, the epic struggle over who gets to sit next to a window in the car. Or the desire to be good versus the desire to stomp on your brother's sand castle. Simon says she hated having to share a room with her younger sister, Anne. As the eldest of four siblings, she tried to pretend she was an only child."

Horrid Henry's brother, Perfect Peter, always does everything right. It's infuriating to be the younger brother of such a type.

Altaner sums up the real Henry nicely in his article. He writes, for example, "Henry hates nature walks and school lunches. He talks his brother into trouble. Even his teddy bear avoids him. Yet Henry is nowhere near as naughty as he appears to his target audience, Simon says. He doesn't climb on the roof, play with matches or even plan to do evil. He's just greedy, impulsive and selfish. "

And funny. And extremely appealing to the youngsters just beginning to read chapter books.

We just finished reading Horrid Henry Meets the Queen as a read-aloud.