Horrid Henry

For a couple of years, I've been vaguely aware that, over in the UK, children have been reading and loving a series of books featuring a boy nicknamed "Horrid Henry," written by Francesca Simon, and illustrated by Tony Ross. Friends there have recommended them to me, I've seen them on lists of books nominated for the British children's choice awards, and I've seen that sometimes Horrid Henry books have been the winners (Horrid Henry and the Abominable Snowman won the Galaxy Award in 2008, and Horrid Henry Robs the Bank is on the 2009 short list) . What I hadn't seen, here in the United States, were the books themselves (on my trips to England, mostly I am looking in used bookstores for books for me).

But this has now changed (um, not the part about me, which is still true). As of April 1, 2009, the first four (of sixteen) Horrid Henry books are available in the US! And my eight-year old and I have read them.

These books are:
Horrid Henry
Horrid Henry Tricks the Toothfairy
Horrid Henry's Stinkbomb
Horrid Henry and the Mega Mean Time Machine

In a nutshell, Henry is a Bad Child. Any adjective that you can think of that would fit a bad child (rude, stubborn, picky, obnoxious, selfish, etc) could be applied to the boy. His little brother, however, is Perfect. Henry butts heads with the world (which he often finds not to his taste), his family, his teacher and classmates, and just about everyone he comes into contact with, in stories that are funny in a slightly un-nice, slapsticky way. For instance, Henry uses other campers' tent pegs to start a campfire, which would never have occurred to a Good Child, such as myself.

Yet despite the Horrid things Henry does, he is smart, and funny, and (almost) likable...My son (being, on the whole, eager to please), was somewhat taken aback, but none the less enjoyed the books. At 80-90 pages, with lots of black and white illustrations, these are great for the youngish independent reader.

Reviewing this series is tricky. It is easy to say "children will love the subversive wit" "children will be delighted by Henry's antics" etc, but what I really want to talk about is Henry's parents and what they are doing wrong, and what I would do if Henry and his brother ("Perfect Peter") were my children. But I realize that this is not the point. So I will fall back on "I am sure that American kids will read these books with just as much enjoyment as the children over in the UK on whom they have already been tested..." or something like that.

For more about Horrid Henry, and to read a sample story (Horrid Henry Tricks the Toothfairy, which is a very good one), here's the publisher's website- Sourcebooks.


  1. Hi Charlotte

    what would you do in that situation?

    Just out of curiousity.


  2. Um. I would never have thought it was a good idea in the first place to take a child I knew would have a miserable time tent camping. The thought of taking my own relativly good children tent camping in a relativly wet country like England is unattractive. I would be happy, however, to take them camping in a warm desert type place.

    Henry's parents has also left him alone at the camp site, and so they did not know that he had been selectivly pulling up other campers' tent pegs. In Henry's favor, he did not know that removing just a few pegs per tent would cause them to collapse when the wind picked up, so it wasn't malicious. But if I had a child that I couldn't trust to behave, I wouldn't leave him by himself, especially not in a place being used by other people.

    So, in a nutshell, I think his parents had unrealistic expectations. They also send him to dance class, take him to art museums, force him to be a ring bearer at a wedding--all situations I wouldn't think of putting a boy like Henry into.

  3. Great post! My favorite was Horrid Henry's Perfect Day and my daughter's was Horrid Henry Tricks the Tooth Fairy.

  4. I think your 8 year old would like Planet Of The Dogs, the first book in our Planet of the Dogs series.

    These illustrated fantasy-adventure first chapter books are recommended for children and dog lovers of all ages...and the same length as the Horrid Henry book that your son read.

    He can preview Planet Of The Dogs in advance. For sample chapters and information on the series, please visit www.planetofthedogs.net.

    If you reply to our email -- barkingplanet@aol.com -- with a postal address, we will be pleased to send you the book.

    Best wishes,
    Robert McCarty
    Barking Planet Productions

  5. I work for the online marketing team at Random House Children’s Books. We have recently launched a new series called Gargoylz, which we think fans of Horrid Henry will love! Packed with mischief, mayhem and magic, Gargoylz follows the adventures of naughty schoolboys Max and Ben, and their cheeky gargoylz friends. Gargoylz are wacky little monsters that are super sneaky, super naughty and have super powers too!
    Find out more about the books and meet the Gargoylz at www.gargoylz.co.uk


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