Ten writers for children. All with something to say.


An Average Kid Having Unexpected Adventures

Which favorite literary character would I dress as for Halloween?  This was a tougher question than I anticipated.  I spent about half an hour this morning standing in front of my bookcase perusing titles and pondering possibilities before I finally decided upon a character I have loved since first reading about his adventures while I was in elementary school.  His name?  Henry Reed.

Henry starred in five books, each of which concerned his (mis)adventures while spending summer vacations with his aunt and uncle in Grover’s Corner, New Jersey.  Along with his friend Margaret “Midge” Glass (the only kid his age who lives in the neighborhood), Henry finds himself involved in many humorous incidents, most of which result from complications arising from his efforts to earn money via various business enterprises.  Whether it’s working as researchers, babysitters, or theatrical managers, Henry and Midge continually find themselves in situations that spiral out of control.  All the while, Henry narrates his adventures in a plain-spoken and understated manner that adds to the humor of the books.

I reread all five of Henry’s adventures this summer.  Doing so reminded me why I loved them so much as a kid.  Much like Beverly Cleary’s Henry Huggins, Henry Reed is just an “average” kid that finds himself embroiled in hilarious adventures.  No magic, no special powers, just a curious and creative kid getting into and out of trouble.

I know this much: If I could dress as Henry Reed for Halloween, I’m not sure what would happen but I am sure it would involve an unexpected adventure.  And it would be funny to boot!


Edie Hemingway said...

Mark, you have me intrigued by your description of Henry Reed. I seem to remember a character named Midge from childhood. Who is the author and what's the title of the series? At any rate, this character is tailor made for you--full of fun, humor, and unexpected adventure!

Lauren said...

It sounds like the tricks of trick to treating would be on you as Henry Reed. Sounds like a great character Mark. I would like to read those books too!

mark said...

Edie, the author is Keith Robertson. The first book in the series is Henry Reed, Inc. followed, I believe, by Henry Reed's Journey and the three others. Definitely a fun series!

Christy said...

Mark, I'm always struck by your spirit of adventure and your appreciation for humor. You will have to report back to us about your Halloween antics; I have no doubt some fun will come your way. Maybe it's time for a new series you create.

David LaRochelle said...

I loved the Henry Reed books as well, Mark (and they were illustrated by none-other than Robert McCloskey of Make Way for Ducklings fame). To this day when I'm on a trip and I see someone pulling a trailer, I wonder if it's full of fireworks and what would happen if someone's discarded cigarette butt landed in the trailer...I'm very glad to hear that they aged well when you read them again. Sometimes I'm afraid to read childhood favorites because they might not live up to my memories, but you have me interested in revisiting Henry and Midge. Hmmmm, I wonder what you would wear as a Henry Reed costume?

mark said...

David, I think the series has aged pretty well other than some sexist comments Henry makes about girls. And the illustrations by McCloskey are definitely one of the highlights of the series, for me.

And some thick-black-framed glasses and a wig ought to be a good start on a costume!

David LaRochelle said...

Did your son read these books, Mark, and if so, what was his reaction?

Yes, thick black-framed glasses, and old-fashioned straight-legged blue jeans would be a good start for your costume.

mark said...

David, no, my son has not yet tried any of the Henry Reed books. We seem to keep buying more books than we can read and so inevitably the pile of unread books continues to grow.... A great problem to have, in my opinion!

As a general rule, though, I can say his tastes run more along the lines of mysteries and Star Wars-type adventures -- though I'm pleased to report he still loves the Mouse and the Motorcycle books!