The Girl and I had a great time reading four books from Francesca Simon's Horrid Henry series, illustrated by Tony Ross, which are being re-released by Sourcebooks. Each book features four stories about a horrid little boy and his perfect younger brother. Horrid Henry doesn't like school, vacations, leaving the house, or his neighbor Moody Margaret. He's always looking for ways to get what he wants or get out of doing something, usually landing him in some sort of trouble. Here's a little bit about each of the stories we read.
In Horrid Henry:
"Horrid Henry's Perfect Day" -- Henry wonders what would happen if he acted as perfect as his brother.
"Horrid Henry's Dance Class" -- Let's just say Horrid Henry would rather take karate lessons.
"Horrid Henry and Moody Margaret" -- Horrid Henry and Moody Margaret compete to make (and drink) disgusting "Glop."
"Horrid Henry's Holiday" -- Picture a couch potato kid forced to go camping, and throw in some rain and a desire to be anywhere but out in the wilderness...
In Horrid Henry Tricks the Tooth Fairy:
"Horrid Henry Tricks the Tooth Fairy" -- Henry will do anything to lose a tooth, or at least get the tooth fairy to leave him some money.
"Horrid Henry's Wedding" -- Horrid Henry and Perfect Peter are ring bearers in a cousin's wedding, and disaster results when Horrid Henry tries to shirk his ring-bearing duties.
"Moody Margaret Moves In" -- Margaret's parents leave her with Henry's family to go on a two-week vacation, and she makes Henry look like an angel. Well, almost.
"Horrid Henry's New Teacher" -- Horrid Henry bets he can get rid of the new teacher permanently by lunch time.
In Horrid Henry and the Mega-Mean Time Machine:
"Horrid Henry's Hike" -- Henry is forced to take a walk in the countryside with his family. Not a good idea.
"Horrid Henry and the Mega-Mean Time Machine" -- Henry has a vivid imagination, but he goes too far in teasing his brother.
"Perfect Peter's Revenge" -- Peter wants to get back at Henry for all the bad things he's done, but will it backfire on the perfect brother?
"Horrid Henry Dines at Restaurant Le Posh" -- A ritzy French restaurant, a snotty cousin, snails, and a picky eater make this a hilarious story.
In Horrid Henry's Stinkbomb:
"Horrid Henry Reads a Book" -- Horrid Henry hates to read, but he's determined to win a reading competition to get tickets to a theme park.
"Horrid Henry's Stinkbomb" -- It's Henry's Purple Hand Fort against Margaret's Secret Club. With the help of traitors, who will get the upper hand?
"Horrid Henry's School Project" -- Disaster ensues when Henry is forced to work on a group project.
"Horrid Henry's Sleepover" -- Henry is never invited to stay over a friend's house more than once, but Nick's family gives Henry a run for his money.
Here's what The Girl (age 8) had to say about the Horrid Henry books:
I loved all of these books because they were hilarious. My favorite stories were "Horrid Henry's Stinkbomb" and "Horrid Henry Dines at Restaurant Le Posh" because they were the funniest. I think Horrid Henry is funny because he's always doing things to get in trouble. I wouldn't want to act like him, though, because he's rude. I think all kids my age would enjoy these books.
I have to agree with The Girl's assessment: Horrid Henry is a riot. As a parent, I wouldn't want Horrid Henry as a child, and I wouldn't want him to set foot in my home. I think his parents should say more than, "Don't be horrid, Henry," when he's acting up. But as a series for children in the age 7 to 10 range, I think they're entertaining. Don't expect to find any role models in these books, though. Horrid Henry is the brattiest kid I've ever come across in books, and Perfect Peter is a bit over the top. But that's what makes them funny.
If anyone has ever taken a reluctant child camping, you'll love "Horrid Henry's Holiday." If you've every dealt with a picky eater, you'll get a kick out of "Horrid Henry Dines at Restaurant Le Posh." Some of the stories end a bit abruptly, and we were both wondering what exactly happened or why the story ended where it did. But we did more laughing out loud than scratching our heads, and you can bet we'll be checking out more books in the series.
This time around, The Girl didn't want to read the stories on her own. She enjoyed cuddling on the couch and having me read to her, but they definitely are books she could handle on her own. If you have a reluctant young reader on your hands, these would be great. And I should point out that the illustrations by Tony Ross really bring Horrid Henry to life. He does a great job capturing the character's expressions. I especially loved the vibrant cover art.
Disclosure: We received free copies of these Horrid Henry books from Sourcebooks for review purposes.