Jeff's Reviews > John Patrick Norman McHennessy: The Boy Who Was Always Late

John Patrick Norman McHennessy by John Burningham
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's review
Jun 19, 2010

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bookshelves: children-s-literature

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 business.

This is an odd picture book. There is an unusually long name of the main character that is repeated sixteen times. This seems excessive. The illustrations show john as very small and Sir is disproportionally larger than the boy. This helpd show Sir is the stronger, more overbearing person in the story. Most of the illustrations are colorful. However, when John and Sir are interacting, the illustrations have a plain white background. The lack of color or background causes the reader to focus on the characters. I think this book has an interesting way of relating to kids who would be able to relate to an adult not believing them when they are being truthful.

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