Jessie's Reviews > Henry Huggins

Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary
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Jul 02, 12

bookshelves: children-s-books
Read on July 02, 2012

I read this book as a kid, and recently wondered if it was REALLY as good as I remembered. Often, a re-read as an adult is a disappointing thing. You see all the mistakes you missed as a kid, the plot becomes boring, and you wonder how you even LIKED it back then. Often, all you get out of it is a tarnished memory and a sense of regret. But sometimes, you find that the book holds up against the passage of years - and collage English classes - and is every bit the gem you remember. Henry Higgins is one of those books.

Henry Higgins is one of those wonderfully rare books that is actually written for its audience - not their parents, teachers, pastors, babysitters or anyone else. It's full of kids that kids can relate to. Often kids' lit makes the mistake of creating "good" kids - the George-Washington-cherry-tree type - and "bad" kids, forgetting that most kids fall somewhere in between. Most kids try to be good, tell a few fibs, stretch the meaning of rules (and their parents' patience), make fun of their friends (but only when they deserve it! Honest!) get annoyed at the opposite sex, break stuff (on accident, of course) and generally act like KIDS. They get in trouble, and parents do their best to point them in the right way. Writing books with the sole purpose of being an object lesson makes the book boring and unreal. Writing 'perfect' kids just makes those characters impossible to relate too. End Rant. :D.

Luckily, Cleary must have understood this. There is no "school bully" is this book. There IS a sometimes annoying older kid that makes fun of Henry on occasion....but also backs him up when it counts. And Henry himself is far from perfect - he teases his friends, makes dubious choices and gets in over his head more than once. And he doesn't face any big "moral dilemma" and come out of it with a halo in place. But, he does face having to pay a friend for a toy he lost, and works to earn money for a bike he wants.

In Henry Higgins, Cleary does a brilliant job of capturing the fun and worries of a kid's life in a series of adventures-and misadventures-featuring one Henry Higgins, his friends, his family, and most of all, his dog Ribsy.

Recommended for all kids, and kids-at-heart.
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