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All is not well at Chickenfeet Academy. Lord Revolting, murderous goldfish-flusher and creator of the mega-wedgie, seeks ingredients to take over the world, including Really Wimpy's pet rock! Henry Potty and his best buddies set out to rescue it, unaware the least likely character in the book has enticed it away for her own sneaky agenda. Henry struggles through Hobology and Extremely Dry History, preps for America's Funniest Fairygodchildren, and tries to avoid laundering Professor Snort's dreaded hankies, or ...
All is not well at Chickenfeet Academy. Lord Revolting, murderous goldfish-flusher and creator of the mega-wedgie, seeks ingredients to take over the world, including Really Wimpy's pet rock! Henry Potty and his best buddies set out to rescue it, unaware the least likely character in the book has enticed it away for her own sneaky agenda. Henry struggles through Hobology and Extremely Dry History, preps for America's Funniest Fairygodchildren, and tries to avoid laundering Professor Snort's dreaded hankies, or worse, watching A History of Cabbages in Polish. All the while, he has his fan club ready, down to the exclusive "Henry Potty" toothpick holders, although none of his fans exist yet. Unapproved, unendorsed, unofficial, and unstoppable: an award-winning parody for all the Harry Potter fans.
In a house so ordinary that it fairly screamed not to be noticed, from the beige carpet that went with everything (including stains) to the Beware of Rabid Hamster sign that kept out the salesmen, there lived a family. It was a perfectly ordinary family, consisting of Mr. and Mrs. Dorky, their son, Dumpy, and their gallant yet ill-treated household slave.
Oh, Henry Potty preferred calling himself a freedom-inhibited individual, but the name didn't change the situation as much as he'd hoped. Even subscribing to Menial Drudges United Newsletter did little to relieve his suffering. Still, Henry smiled through the abuse as Dumpy Dorky tried to pull his ears off and experimented on Henry with his sinister mold growing kit. For Henry knew that he was special. You see, he had ... a destiny.
Henry had known this ever since he stumbled across the note that had been left beside his basket. All of the best heroes have been abandoned in baskets, starting with Breadbasket Fred, who went on to start a national chain of French fry restaurants. In any case, the letter caught Henry's attention thanks to the six-inch letters on top that said, "Never, under any circumstances allow Henry Potty to read this letter." His cousin had left it in Henry's room, less from asense of destiny and more from the fact that he still hadn't learned to read. He was only twelve, after all.
The letter read, "Destiny has marked this boy for greatness. Bring him up so he doesn't get a stuffed head. Oh, and make sure he wears clean socks. I can't abide foot fungus. Signed, a Mysterious Elusive Benefactor who prefers to remain incognito for the time being."
Henry knew that someday, someone would come and rescue him from his life of servile drudgery. Oh, not his parents. Lames and Jelly had been killed years ago, either from slipping on a pair of banana peels and falling to their deaths or getting hit by a rampant llama, his aunt didn't remember which. But someone, somewhere, cared enough to rescue him from a tragic life of foot fungus. And they would find him, eventually. Maybe. Henry was just glad he had so many definite facts with which to reassure himself.
In the meantime, there was his fan club. Since Henry had a destiny, he knew that in the future, people would break down the doors of his house to beg for his autograph. Just as well to build his fan base now, so it would be all ready when fame and fortune followed. Besides, it gave him something pleasant to think about after his monthly scrubbing of his cousin's undershorts.
The letter came in a plain, ordinary, unassuming envelope, which Henry tossed under his bed carelessly. Probably another advertisement or something equally not worth opening. His room was filled with "Henry Potty" books, card games, action figures, toothpick holders, movie posters, and other rubbish. In short, everything that he needed to be a star. But whether his adventure appeared in the form of a gallant knight on a white horse or a mysterious lamp that would grant wishes and even polish his shoes, Henry knew it wouldn't be coming in an envelope. He began to update his website with a brand new, hot pink counter, (00000000000000000000000000000000001 visitors have visited The Official Henry Potty Web Page) ignoring the fact that all the readers were smirking at his blissful ignorance.
The next day, there were two letters on his plate. Henry glanced at them briefly before going upstairs to alphabetize his chapter rules and bylaws for the Henry Potty Fan Club. An hour later, he was back downstairs, responding to his aunt's demands by painting tasteful murals on the disposal pipes under the sink. "Someday my fans will come," he sang, to the accompaniment of colorfully dressed singing mice. Twinkling, magical lights bounced from the pipes to his glasses, threatening to permanently fry his already pitiful vision. And so went the first week of mysterious mail.
Henry jerked his head up as an earthquake shook the ground beneath him. A hideous, jello-like creature slithered down the stairs, all pale, lumpy, and alien. It was Dumpy Dorky.
Henry's cousin relied on the latest trends in skateboards since he was too fat to walk. And with his limited brainpower, he didn't have much of a glamorous future ahead of him. Perhaps he could make it as a disc jockey someday. Henry scrutinized his cousin again. Dumpy looked surprisingly happy for someone with that face.
"Henry, fetch me my slippers!"
Henry tossed them at his head. Luckily, Dumpy had moved onto another thought (he could only handle one at a time, on a really good day at least) and didn't notice.
"You know what I don't understand?" he said.
"Second grade geography?"
"No! Well, yes, that, but also why you get to be the star of the book. Shouldn't they pick someone with charm and style?"
"You? You're less attractive than leftover gruel at Thanksgiving."
"Oh, that reminds me. I want a snack," Dumpy said. "It's been five minutes since I had breakfast."
"Of course, my little love-pudding," Pilluffa said. Henry knew she called him that for his shape rather than his sweetness. Pilluffa's long, pointy nose would've marked her as the evil stepmother type of woman, even if her stringy hair and green skin hadn't given her away. Henry's nicknaming her Aunt Pill completed the image. "Why don't I order the slave ... er, your cousin, to fix you a nice cup of lard with a plate of double-stuffed cream buns and you can show me all the Q minuses on your report card."
Henry shuddered. Bread and water weren't so bad, considering. At least he knew that the source of Dumpy's quarrelsome mood was his being woken up really really early in the morning. It had barely been eleven AM when Henry had "accidentally" dropped the cast iron stove on the floor.
"Oh, Henry, I expect Dumpy wants some candy bars too," said Aunt Pilluffa.
Henry struggled to do the two chores at once, yet found it impossible. The candy bars were in the kitchen, while the lard was in the pantry and Henry just couldn't see a way to be in two places at once. At least, not and still be breathing.
"And I know you're occupied with shampooing the hamster and giving us pedicures and so forth, but take a moment to throw all these letters away. All two hundred-fifty-six of them clutter up the place and I can never have anyone to tea."
Pilluffa never had anyone to tea anyway, since even her dearest friends knew that she was the villainess of the book and refused to associate with her. Still, she could hope. Pilluffa plunged her sharp, evil stepmotherish fingernails in a bit deeper. "It could be fan letters."
"I doubt it," Henry sighed. "There isn't even a hint of a breeze coming out of them." Still, he picked up the top letter from the pile. At least someone out there wanted to hear from him. If he wrote back, at least he could include his recently updated Henry Potty Newsletter.
He opened the letter.
You probably haven't figured this out, but your frequent use of magic identifies you as a gizzard! If you are half as talented as you say you are, we would be happy to welcome you to our school. While you are researching the doubtless equally exemplary schools in England, you may want to consider sunny California for your student needs. Our school of Chickenfeet Academy looms over a beautiful trash-free beach, only minutes from the nearest strip malls, fast food joints, and of course, Hollywood. Some slanderous citizens have named us a fourth-rate school. This is entirely untrue! In fact, we feel proud to rank ourselves among the grandest third-rate schools of the nation. Word of your fame has reached us, even halfway across the world. Well, perhaps a third across the world. The Atlantic is a small ocean, as oceans go. Unless you compute by time zones, in which case it's the same as Hong Kong, just in the opposite direction ... where was I? Oh, yes. Please let us know if you're interested in being our first student ever to graduate.
Yours truly, Professor Bumbling Bore
"It sounds interesting," Henry said.
"You'd be gone all year?" his aunt wondered.
"Hmm, this sounds like a good program."
Menial Drudges United had been campaigning for years and was slowly accumulating rights. In a few years, they might even rebel against mucking out stables. In the meantime, they were demanding shovels.
So much authority in the hands (or rather, shovels) of slaves was quite frightening for the innocent, hard working common folk who had throttled them all those years. So now that the opportunity had come to be rid of their household laborer, Henry's family jumped at the chance. Well, his aunt and uncle jumped. Dumpy Dorky needed several schoolmates heaving his excess flab before he could so much as stand.
Within the week, Henry's bags were packed and he was ready to go. His relatives herded him to the plane. "But I've never left England before!"
"Shut up, we're giving you your freedom."
"Yes, those Americans will bring you up right."
His aunt and uncle bid him an emotional goodbye, even refraining from throwing garbage at him. Dumpy showed no such restraint.
His fairy godmother was there to meet him when he got off the plane. "Hello, my dear, I'm your fairy godmother. And I shall give you a gown and a magic pumpkin coach, and everything that you need to go to the ball!" She wore a fluffy pink taffeta gown and rosy high-heeled shoes that raised her heels so far off the ground that Henry was amazed she could walk. Henry noticed that the woman was surrounded by singing birds, mice, and four off-key hedgehogs.
"I have a fairy godmother?"
"Everyone needs a godmother or godfather. Get serious!"
"Well, thank you for your offer, but I'm not going to a ball. I'm going to Chickenfeet Academy."
"Oh!" The woman flicked her wand, changing into pink army camouflage with tall, rosy combat boots. "Then let's hit those back to school sales!"
"Aw, why do I have to go shopping?"
"It's to bore the readers, so they'll be more impressed when something actually happens later in the book," his fairy godmother said.
"Why don't we just skip that section?"
Henry left the store carrying all the things that he would need in the following year, including a cauldron, as well as a hot-drun, several gizzard bathrobes in a variety of tasteful colors with color-matched socks and hair ribbons, a small set of scales, the snake that the scales came off, several grapefruit, and a small elephant.
"Wait, you forgot your wand!" his godmother protested, scurrying to catch up after all the pages her fairy godson had skipped.
Henry left the store carrying all the things that he would need in the following year, including a cauldron, a hot-drun, several gizzard bathrobes in a variety of tasteful colors with color-matched socks and hair ribbons, a small set of scales, the snake that the scales came off, several grapefruit, a small elephant, and a magic wand.
"Not like that," his godmother scolded. "The wand, at least, you're buying properly."
She led him to The Wand Guys, and pushed him inside. "Henry Potty," murmured a tall, attractive woman with rosy cheeks and an umbrella. She held a tape measure up to his ear and let the other end fall to the floor. "Not an ideal charge for nannies. Doesn't put his socks away."
"Aren't you in the wrong book, dear?" Henry's godmother asked.
"You haven't advertised for a nanny?"
"Dear me, no! Henry's going off to Chickenfeet Academy."
"I'm sorry to have troubled you, then."
"Oh, no, not at all. I have to go meet Sleeping Beauty in a few pages anyway," the godmother said.
The mysterious nanny raised her umbrella and flew off with it, soaring higher and higher into the sky. After a few moments came a screech of dismay and the twang of overstretched telephone wires. Henry's fairy godmother turned her attention to Henry, who was busy counting the dots in the ceiling and trying to find patterns in them, despite the fact that the ceiling was solid black.
"Henry! Wake up. You need to get a wand."
"Really? Most people say I need to get a life. I suppose a wand would be easier."
Henry's godmother sighed. "All right. Now, stand on one foot, put the other leg behind your head, and hold your arms out in front of you. Then shut your eyes. Oh, and try to wiggle your ears."
Henry did as he was told. "So this will help you figure out what kind of wand to get me?" He heard a faint humming sound. Perhaps it was a burst of magic delving into his soul to find him the perfect wand to treasure for the rest of his life.
Actually, it was the record button on his fairy godmother's video camera. "No, this is for my submission to America's Funniest Fairy godchildren," she said.
"But what about my wand?" Henry asked, still trying to wiggle his ears.
"Oh. Here." She pulled the closest wand off a shelf and tossed it to Henry, who jumped and caught it in his mouth while still maintaining his awkward position. "Good boy!" his godmother said. "Goodness, I could make twice as much money if I submitted this to America's Funniest Pets as well. Here, have a treat!" She tossed him a piece of candy and he opened his mouth wide to catch it, letting the wand drop in the process. The wand landed on his one supporting foot and he hopped about in pain, the chocolate bar still clenched in his teeth.
His godmother kept the camera rolling. "Gee, this'll make me a million. Maybe I could even go on that island show and make some real money."
Finally, Henry realized that he had his wand now, and didn't need to keep hopping with his other leg squashed behind his head just to entertain his fairy godmother and millions of Americans with nothing better to watch on TV. So he stopped.
Henry's fairy godmother sighed in disappointment and turned her camera off. "Guess there's nothing more to see." Bigfoot flew by the store window, riding on a UFO, but neither of the humans noticed. "Well, be good, Henry, and have fun in school," his godmother said.
"Wait! Don't I get wishes or blessings or anything?"
"Hmm, that's a good idea. At least it might keep you out of trouble." The fairy bopped Henry on the head with her wand.
"What did you do?" he asked.
"I hit you on the head with my wand. My goodness, couldn't you tell?"
"No, I mean, what did it accomplish?"
"It was fun." She bopped him a second time. "And that one's to bang some sense out of you." Immediately a small trickle of pennies cascaded from Henry's ears as Henry groaned. Being hit with a wand was bearable, but his godmother's pun was not.
"All right, fine, I'll give you your present." She waved her wand in an arc over Henry's head. Immediately, a brilliant light flooded down from above, blinding Henry and forcing him to squint.
"Could you turn that down?" he asked.
"Certainly." The light swiveled downwards to glare even closer to Henry's watering eyes.
"No, I mean turn down the intensity." Immediately, the brightest part of the light shot even closer to Henry and he covered his eyes in desperation. "Turn it off!" he howled.
"Of course, of course, no need to holler. Well, at least you seem a little brighter now. If we keep this up, you might even pass a few of your classes." The light thankfully dimmed.
"But what does the light do?" Henry asked.
"It's your conscience, Henry. When it glows like that, it means you've done a good deed. I just wish crickets weren't becoming an endangered species. This will send my electricity bill through the roof. Well? Aren't you going to say thank you?"
Henry grimaced. He wasn't that grateful for an enormous spotlight, and a conscience interested him even less. "Fairy Godmother? I was hoping for something a bit more substantial." Henry rubbed his fingers together in the universal sign for money.
His fairy godmother reached into her pink purse and retrieved a lint-covered lollipop. "Everything all right now? Good," she said and she vanished, not before smearing his forehead with a big, moist kiss, nearly taking the skin off in its intensity.
Then she popped back in. "Nearly forgot! Just remember; always let your conscience be your guide. Oh, and wear clean underwear." Then she popped out, leaving an aroma of lavender laundry soap and the bright tinkle of artificial music lingering in the air.
"Right," Henry said. "Conscience, how do I get to the train station?"
Blazing gold letters appeared in the sky before him. "What do I look like, the yellow pages? I'm only around to pick on you when you screw up, and heap guilt onto already bad situations. Now go call information and find someone who cares. And get a haircut."
"What good will cutting one of my hairs do?"
A large number of golden asterisks, exclamation points, and so forth implied that his conscience was busy spewing dirty words. "And another thing," the letters added. "It's not the Chickenfeet train, it's the Chickenfeet trainer."
Excerpted from Henry Potty and the Pet Rock by VALERIE ESTELLE FRANKEL Copyright © 2006 by Valerie Estelle Frankel . Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted January 19, 2007
Henry Potty grows up the downtrodden house slave (or, as he prefers, 'freedom-inhibited individual') of his evil aunt, uncle, and cousin. But soon a mysterious letter arrives, inviting him to attend Chickenfeet Academy and learn how to be a gizzard. Any resemblance to a certain wildly successful fantasy novel is purely the author's intention. This parody doesn't simply send up Harry Potter. It doesn't just jokingly reference numerous fantasy and fairy tale tropes. It doesn't merely assault the reader with dozens of bad puns. It does all three. And it's funny. I haven't laughed out loud so much since reading Bored of the Rings, and that was awhile ago. The author invites the reader in on the joke too, sometimes by talking to the reader directly, giving the book the feel of a good yarn told around a campfire. As for the story itself, it has flying vacuum cleaners, flying pigs, and magically created hot dogs. But, sadly, no robots. One can only hope for their appearance in a sequel.
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Posted January 20, 2007
Henry Potty and The Pet Rock is a hilarious Children's Fiction storybook based on life at 'witch school.' Excitement and adventure perpetuate throughout the book. Original, inventive characters and storyline make the book fun to read.
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