Non Fiction Video Thurs.-- Henry's Amazing Animals

Today I offer Henry's Amazing Animals, a series available as videos and also shown on tv. This is more maintream than previous reviews, but heck, my children (6 and just turned 4) like them.

Premise: A animated lizard named Henry, who is very silly, is taught by an unseen male voice about the wonders of the natural world. Henry gets things wrong, gets into trouble, makes bad jokes; the narrator presents clips of animals and discusses their behavior.

Here's what's good about this series:

There are lots and lots and lots of titles in this series. So if your child enjoys them, the novelty can last for a long time as you track down the various videos in your state's library system (they also come up on ebay, but tend to be more expensive than the 3 dollars or so I like to spend).

The parts where we are shown real animals are interesting and informative. The language is clear enough so that very young children can follow what's happening.

They are not long--only half an hour or so, so they work well for keeping the children happy while you are trying to cook supper/keeping the children happy while eating your own supper (although of course every meal in our house is Family Togetherness Time ha ha), and the trauma of turning of the tv halfway through a video is avoided.

Here's what's indifferent about the series:

The creators tried really really hard to make Henry the lizard funny. My husband and I find this aspect painful; the children are sometimes amused, sometimes unmoved.

The use of an animated lizard and supplemental "humorous" animated bits possibly serves as a entre into non-fiction for kids used to cartoons; I'd rather have mine watching the real thing.

The show is very segmented--we jump from clips of real animals, to cartoon episodes, to Henry's Golden Gecko Awards for Best xxxx Animal. This possibly holds the young viewers attention, but also dumbs the whole thing down.

Here's what's possibly negative:

The jokes are bad.

The omnipotent narrator, being male, reinforces the non-fiction video stereotype that men are the arbiters of scientific knowledge.

They're being shown on the Discovery Channel at 8:30 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon (ET)...It almost makes me wish that our tv could get channels, instead of simply serving as a portal to videos. But on the other hand, we are not home at 8:30 in the morning anyway. Someone else must agree with me that this series works well for kids 5 and under, since they're the only ones home.

There's a list of Henry titles here.


  1. Hello, Charlotte! Thanks for stopping by my blog. It's good to meet another Elizabeth Goudge fan. I'm hoping that the "Moon Princess" movie generates enough interest to bring more of her books back into print.

  2. I think ur a little too sensitive..remember, its not a show for your entertainment, its for ur kids. When i watched this as a kid i longed for watching more and more. The cartoons and awards add humour but also give their own segments to the current theme. So think of it from a kid's point of view and not yours.

  3. Um, perhaps I was a bit too hard on poor Henry. It's been almost two years since I posted this, and my children are still requesting Henry from time to time, so it does indeed have a lot of kid appeal.

  4. The jokes are bad? Maybe to you, but to the kids (and people who like those jokes), they are hilarious.

    An open and non-generalizing mind needs to remember this, stating it in more of a personal opinion instead of generalizing it as if to say "the jokes ARE bad" rather than "personally, I think the jokes are bad," etc.

    As Anonymous put it, the humor is intended for kids, not adults.

    Sorry for that, but this show I grew up on so it has a very special place in my heart (or, brain rather).

    I miss this show soooooo much!! i'm 23 and I've been looking high and low for it, but i cannot seem to find any of the episodes.

    I'm SO ordering it.

  5. gee Wendi, guess I touched a nerve! I hope you're able to find them, and that you still enjoy the jokes as much as you did when you were younger.


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