Henrietta the greatest go-getter by Martine Murray

cover image

Allen and Unwin, 2017. ISBN 9781760112417
Childhood. Imagination. I wouldn't be surprised if Martine Murray has used Whimsy and Miss Chief to help her in this bizarrely creative romp through the childhood excursions of imaginative play. With word permutations and positional wizardry, text floats in and out of reason in the world of Henrietta. This is actually a rebinding of three of Henrietta's tales, each as odd as the other, and deliberately quirky. Henrietta presents as a three or four year old, who is not bound by reasonable or logical interpretations of the world, and her excursions to places such as the Wide Wide Long Cool Coast of the Lost Socks demonstrate that there is no reason why we have to be bound by rules of normality. Were it not for the fact that I remember my daughter telling me equally bizarre stories in her early years of 'creative bedtime narratives', I might have discarded this book as a nonsense. It does have an odd quirkiness for an adult reader. I wonder though will young children understand the vagaries of someone else's odd imaginative expeditions and flights of fancy, or is this an adult interpretation of where a young child might travel in the dreamy half-light of imagination?
It is difficult to know what the target audience is for this book. Although the central character is quite young (pre-school age probably), the format and presentation with deliberately odd line drawings in a naive style and with floating and varied text formatting would be more suited to an older more independent reader. One hopes they would still remember their own eccentricities as their imagination took flight.
Recommend this to a child with the oddest of imaginations!
Carolyn Hull