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Saturday, June 13, 2015

Little Red Henry, written by Linda Urban and illustrated by Madeline Valentine. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2015. $19.00 ages 3 and up

"It seemed like a good time to visit his friend Gibson. Henry went to his bedroom to get dressed. As usual, his clothes had been laid out for the day. "I'd prefer something else," said Henry.

Poor Henry! He's the baby of the family; it seems that everyone else wants to keep it that way. They do everything for him, including using language that even the youngest babies would not appreciate.

"After breakfast, Mama swooped in low. "Let Mommy brush your widdle toofers." The rest of the family raced to the bathroom, elbowing and calling dibs. "Let me," cried Papa. "Let me!" shouted Mem. "Let me!" hollered Sven."

Henry is tired of all the attention and coddling. Assuring all that he is perfectly capable of brushing his own teeth, getting dressed, going next door to his friend's house to play, pouring his milk, cutting his own bread and eating what is on his plate, he proves his mettle. Not being constantly concerned with Henry and his needs, the family members find time to participate in things they have been missing while spending all of their spare time caring for Henry.

Everything changes when Henry gets ready for bed all by himself, and gets into bed all by himself. Maybe, just maybe, he can use some company!

"Mama and Papa and Mem and Sven loved and cuddled
and snuggled and squeezed their little redheaded Henry.
They fluffed his pillows and tucked in his covers and
wished him sweet dreams and sang him a long lullaby ... "

Madeline Valentine creates small glimpses at a quiet and loving family as they interact with one another; then movement and expression as Henry and his friend Gibson spend a delightful day playing hard. The cartoon-like illustrations are a perfect accompaniment to Ms. Urban's energetic and playful text. Hang in there, Henry!

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