Review Blog

Sep 02 2010

Henry Hoey Hobson by Christine Bongers

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Woolshed Press. ISBN 9781 864719956.
(Ages 10+) Humour. Highly Recommended. A laugh out loud story of fitting in, Henry's tale of not judging books by their cover will have readers smirking wisely at the familiar path he treads when arriving at a new school, only to discover that he is the only boy in his year level. From then on things get decidedly worse. Mum, always one step ahead of going under, moves often, making Henry's life at best, varied and interesting, at worst, dangerous and fraught, with new kids who are often unfriendly.  But this time, even the neighbours give him cause for concern. Looking like the leftovers from the set of a vampire movie, the group moves in with a coffin, candelabra and capes. But mum, never holding back from an opportunity, has been invited in for a meal, and Henry, unable to dissuade her, goes along expecting that they will be fanged. How wrong can he be, the threesome next door turn out to be godsends, not only does Caleb go along with Henry to swimming, filling in his time sheet, but when things go awry with mum in hospital, it is these people who turn out to be as close as any family, giving Henry all that he needs to keep going.
But more than this, Henry's life is changed for the better as he finds out why mum has been moving so often and the reason behind his odd parentage.  The last few chapters turn the story on its head. What was a wonderfully humourous story for younger readers becomes a moving story of family and reconciliation. Have your tissues handy as Henry's life turns from being an itinerant, fatherless child, relying on his one and only relative, his mum, to a boy happy with his lot, having a family on whom he can rely, next door neighbours who comfort and support him and a school where he is revered and befriended. A treat.
Fran Knight

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