Price: INR 199
Publisher: Dolphin Paperbacks
I had seen stacks of Horrid Henry books in the children’s sections of most bookstores I visited before I finally decided to pick up a couple of titles at a secondhand book sale. And I’m glad I did!
Horrid Henry, as his name suggests, is a nightmarish brat. To offset his horribleness is his younger goody two-shoes brother Perfect Peter who always listens to their parents, enjoys eating vegetables, loves doing his homework and has a favourite magazine called Best Boy. Yawn!
I have so much more fun reading about the terrors. And Henry really does make life difficult for everyone else. I’d hate to deal with a kid like him but reading about him is endlessly entertaining. He bullies his brother, harasses his parents and declares war on all the girls in his class. What’s not to like?
The book contains four short stories – Horrid Henry’s Hike, Horrid Henry and the Mega-Mean Time Machine, Perfect Peter’s Revenge and Horrid Henry Dines at Restaurant Le Posh – each of which are hilarious. I’ve always been a relatively well-behaved child which is why I get such a vicarious thrill reading about Henry’s exploits. He whines and grumbles, refuses to do what he is told and is a champion tantrum-thrower.
The stories demonstrate a perfect child’s eye view, complete with their joys, trials and tribulations. Grown-ups only make a cursory appearance in this largely self-contained childhood world. Reading it made me reminiscent of Rugrats, one of my favourite cartoons while I was growing up. Kids armed with bucketloads of imagination and minimal parental supervision (the mega-mean time machine emerges from the cardboard box their washing machine came in, which reminded me of my cardboard box my television came in and which ended up providing me with countless hours of entertainment). Henry’s parents do make an appearance now and then where they are either supremely unconcerned by his tantrums or so weary of his antics that they aren’t averse to bribery.
I can just imagine so many parents having a major problem with Henry’s horrid nature and his parents’ coping mechanisms. Maybe that’s why I loved the book so much.