Old Henry

Old Henry

by Joan W. Blos, Stephen Gammell
     
 

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The neighbors aren't too happy about Henry and his beat-up old house. Why doesn't he clean it up, and weed his garden and sweep his walk? Henry's got better things to do. Tired of being bothered, he finally gets fed up and moves away. The funny thing is, nobody's really happy when he does—not the neighbors, and not Henry. Here is a wise and witty tale about

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Overview

The neighbors aren't too happy about Henry and his beat-up old house. Why doesn't he clean it up, and weed his garden and sweep his walk? Henry's got better things to do. Tired of being bothered, he finally gets fed up and moves away. The funny thing is, nobody's really happy when he does—not the neighbors, and not Henry. Here is a wise and witty tale about different kinds of people learning to get along.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
When Old Henry sees a ramshackle house, he decides to move in, birds and all. His furniture seems to go with the place; he feels at home. But the neighbors expect Old Henry to fix up the house and yardexpectations he ignores, thank you very much. They try everything to persuade him, but even the bribe of a hot pie won't get Old Henry to clean up. Tired of being nagged, he leaves town. Then the townspeople feel lost without him and, wherever it is that Old Henry is, he misses them, too. A letter to the mayor sets the wheels in motion for him to return home (but he'll mend the gate and shovel the snow). This compromise is a little disappointing; young readers will probably have loved Old Henry the way he was and may wish the neighbors would get off his back! In fact, Henry's honesty and happiness make this a heroic story until the ending, which some may find sentimental. Without undermining the text, the rainbow-hued watercolor and pencil drawings exalt the simple affirmations of the story, with characters both comic and poignant. Gammell demonstrates again that he is one of themost gifted illustrators working today.(All ages)
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3Old Henry , told in verse, relates the interactions of a stubborn individualist and his neighbors in a small town. When Henry moves in to a dilapidated old house, his new neighbors look forward to his fixing it up. When he is content to leave it as it is, his neighbors become upset. The mayor suggests that they try being nice, ``please, try it twice.'' But their efforts are rebuffed. Eventually Henry leaves. While the neighbors begin to question their actions, Henry also realizes he misses them. The story ends with his letter to the mayor seeking a compromise, and younger children may have problems with the lack of closure to the story. Yet the book raises interesting questions about individual freedom versus community responsibility and would be useful for a discussion of these ideas at home or school. Gammell's softly colored pencil drawings give Henry more character than is brought out in the text, with his jaunty railroad cap and mismatched socks. There are no solid blocks of color to be found here. Every surface glows with a prism of hues, as though to emphasize the many facets to be found in both Henry and his neighbors and the world they share. Judith Gloyer, Milwaukee Public Library

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780688099350
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
08/28/1990
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
32
Sales rank:
530,369
Product dimensions:
10.12(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.06(d)
Lexile:
AD570L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

In Her Own Words:

There are always three questions: How old are you? How many books have you written? Where do you get your ideas? The first two questions are easy. I was born in 1928, and I have written more than a dozen picture books, including an adaptation of a biographical note by Margaret Wise Brown, three works of historical fiction for young people, and one play. More are now in progress.

I am probably best known for A Gathering of Days, which won both the Newbery Medal and the American Book Award (Children's Fiction) in 1980. But I have always had a special affection and respect for picture books, which are, I think, a literary invention of the twentieth century - maybe the literary invention! A picture book is very different from an illustrated book, where the words do the work and the pictures show what is already described. In a picture book, the words tell part of the story and the pictures tell part of it too. When I write the text of a picture book, I have to think about what parts of the story are my responsibility and what should be left to the artist. It is usually harder, and takes longer, to write the words for a picture book than most people imagine.

About the third question: It's hard to say, really, where I get my ideas. Most of the time ideas come naturally, like thinking about what to make for dinner or wondering why something happened the way it did or looking at a snow-storm and knowing it's beautiful. Sometimes it seems that knowing you have an idea for a story when you do have one is what makes you a writer.

But there's something else. Writing has to do with caring of special kinds - about the world and all that goes on in it, about finding the words that will tell about those things, and about the people who will read the words. If writing is something you can do, and you get the right ideas, then you become a writer. If, in addition, you especially care about children, then you write children's books.

I didn't start out intending to be a writer, and there were many years when I did other things: study physiology or child development, teach children's literature, or be with my family. I was nearly forty years old when my first book was published! But I do not think I would have written more, or better, had I not done these other things. Everything that has happened in my life has its place in my writing.

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