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John Patrick Norman McHennessy: The Boy Who Was Always Late
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John Patrick Norman McHennessy: The Boy Who Was Always Late

3.7  ·  Rating details ·  196 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
Every day, John Patrick sets off along the road to school, and although he hurries, strange and improbable happenings repeatedly make him late. To make things worse, his teacher never believes his story.
Paperback, 40 pages
Published August 16th 1990 by Red Fox (first published 1987)
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Mattia Ravasi
Apr 08, 2016 rated it did not like it
I can very well envision my 4-year-old self throwing this book to a corner of the room, screaming "what is this shit," and logging in to GoodReads to write a one-star review that goes "I can very well envision my 24-year-old self throwing this book to a corner of the room, screaming "what is this shit," and logging in to GoodReads to write a one-star review that goes "I can very well envision my 4-year-old self throwing this book to a corner of the room, screaming "what is this shit," and loggin ...more
Apr 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Author: John Burningham

Genre: Fictional picture book

Publication Info: Crown Publishers, Inc (1987)

Reading Level: Transitional

Topic/Theme: Honesty/ Trust/ self-deception

Issues Addressed: Strange things do occur, you just have to choose whether or not to believe them.

Classroom Uses: Shared Reading, Readers Theatre.

Summary: John (long name) is walking to school and a lot of strange things happen. He encounters lions, hairy gorillas, crocodiles, and tidle waves on his way to school. His teacher d
Emma (Miss Print)
Mar 27, 2012 rated it did not like it
I'm glad John was vindicated in the end but the teacher was a bit vicious.
Andy Verschoyle
economic, precise drawing, every line a detail which adds value, cover dark, inside cover almost poetic, teacher a great shark/crocodile/beetle with predatory teeth, tiny drenched boy, dumb as no mouth, large clear letters are pro-reading.

images of the teacher look like a francis bacon pope, or edvard munch scream, a primaeval creature.

vocabulary choice is simple and carefully chosen. john patrick is always on the road to learn - aren't we all?

when his imagination kicks in the colour palette cha
Sophie Ellcome
Sep 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Good for KS1

PSHE- honesty, self-deception and trust, importance of telling the truth

Literacy- explore imagination, anything in possible in a story

Jun 19, 2010 rated it liked it
This is a picture book about a boy named John Patrick Norman McHennessy. John keeps having out of the ordinary things happen to him as he "sets off along the road to learn" that cause him to be late. He has an encounter with a crocodile, a lion, and a tidal wave. Each time "Sir" (his teacher) thinks he's lying, tells John there was no such thing, and punnishes him. At the end, Sir has an encounter with a gorilla and askes John for help. John tells Sir there's no such thing and goes on about his ...more
Anna Harris
This is a story about a young boy called John Patrick Norman McHennessy. Every day he tries to get to school on time, but is always late – through no fault of his own. Unfortunately, his school teacher doesn’t believe him, and punishes him by making him write lines for telling lies.
This is an amusing picture story, which will be enjoyed by younger children. John Burningham writes in a very simple and effective way – the story is easy to follow, and easy to relate to; I’m sure many of us can rec
Abbie Baines
Jun 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Everyday John Patrick Norman McHennessy “sets off on the road to learn” but he is delayed. Not because he left something behind or he missed the bus, no, because he comes across the wildest of situations. A crocodile jumps up from the drain, a tidal wave washes him clean off the bridge! How could all these things happen to one boy! The more they happen the more in trouble he gets in. But one day it all changes.

A wonderful story with beautiful illustrations, perfect for KS1 children who want to
Boy with extremely long name is always late but for good reason. Be it tidal wave, a lion, or crocodile John Patrick Norman McHennessy's teacher seems never to believe them though and puts the poor boy to menial tasks like writing hundreds of sentences or standing in the corner for punishment. It's no wonder that when something rather improbable happens to the teacher himself, John Patrick Norman McHennessy does not come to aid. Serves him right. I appreciate older picture books where justice is ...more
Jun 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
I usually like every single one of John Burningham's numerous, quirky books and this one was no exception. Made my think of Dr. Seuss's classic And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street, although with simpler plot ...
Mar 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Talk about calamitous adventures on the way to school! Little JPNM is certainly plagued with them -- a crocodile coming out of the gutter drain, a lion hiding in the grass, a tidal wave washing over the bridge. He gets in trouble with his teacher, until one day when the tables are turned and the teacher is captured by a giant ape.

Well, this dilemma may not resonate with the pre-school crowd and the humor is a bit "Brit" (as is the author/illustrator). With a little bit of tweaking a savvy story
Amar Pai
Apr 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids-books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alison Durbin
Mar 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
I found this book humorous, and I think children everywhere will too. I also liked how this book could be used for beginning readers due to its repetitive text and predictability. For this reason, I can see myself purchasing this book for my classroom.
2.5 stars. Interesting, very arty, pictures. John always has problems with extraordinary animals and natural disasters on his way to school but his school master never believes him. Until the tables turn. I had fonder memories of this book than I do on re-reading it.
Feb 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
As the title states, John Patrick Norman McHennessy IS always late to school, but unlike most children he has some very good, very real excuses, much to the disbelief of his pragmatic teacher. This is a classic tale, I remember loving as a child.
The Brothers
Feb 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
Repetitive and dull. It would have been a much better book without the repeating of everything by the teacher then having to either say or write it all over again by the boy.

Illustrations are uninspired.
Mar 05, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: children
The children really like this one, though I suspect it's mainly for my school teacher and pink-floyd-esque school child voice. The actual moral is somewhat ambiguously swayed in the anti-public-school teacher direction.
Young Lightning in Dark Sky
I would say that the illustrations and, well, I suppose it could be one form of reverse psychology, the revolt towards the unrighteous authority made it very enjoyable from a rebellious child's perspective..

hehe, recommended for adults who think they are all that.
clever story about a boy who is late to school for reasons that seem impossible...lion jumping out of the woods...tidal wave. teacher punishes him and then in the end, the teacher is tied up by a gorilla.
Martha Lee
Nov 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
I love the illustration which are so fantastic.
The story is full of imagination.
The end of the story is really surprised me!
Jun 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Sometimes we should believe the excuses our kids give us. :)
Jun 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
What a strange and genius book.
Jun 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
John Burningham's humor shines in this picture book. Illustrations are his typical style, and perfect for the tone and wit of the book.
Sep 15, 2016 rated it did not like it
What an awful, abusive, rotten teacher. I get why this book would be popular but I just don't like it.
Amelia Hillard
Oct 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
i thoght that it was great
May 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-book
Of course there are always reasons for being late, but how unfortunate to arrive on time and miss the fun of the journey.
Melusine Parry
Funny. But the drawings! ...
Sep 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
'Think this would make a great read-aloud with older students about treating others appropriately and fairly and about what someone learns from our actions
Wendy Swain
Feb 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
A very cute book that could lead to great discussions.
Eli Schuster
Jun 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: not the faint of heart, in the least bit.....
Recommended to Eli by: mommy dearest
Shelves: chiluns-books
Creepiest book ever--almost... Must Read!!
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Married to Helen Oxenbury They have one son and two daughters.

John Burningham was born in 1936 in Farnham, Surrey, and attended the alternative school, Summerhill. In 1954 he spent two years travelling through Italy, Yugoslavia and Israel, working at a variety of jobs.

From 1956-1959, he studied at the Central School of Art, after which he designed posters fo
More about John Burningham