She was waiting with a gaggle of mates, blocking the stairs leading back down from our classroom. Golden in the sunlight, with that curious blend of stealth and grace that marked the lion queens of the jungle. I lumbered towards the all-female pride, a wildebeest, hell-bent on his own destruction.
In nature, there were thousands of us, protected by numbers, sacrificing only the occasional member to predators that liked to feed on the weak. But here in the wildlife preserve of Perpetual Suckers, I was the only straggler. The odd one out. The one to be brought down, torn to pieces and consumed.
Henry is starting at yet another new school. And as if starting all over again wasn’t tough enough, he discovers that he is the only boy in his year level. His mother is a young real estate agent and she works long hours trying to make a living to support the two of them. Because it’s always been just the two of them. And sometimes the relationship seems less parent/child than it might be. Henry is weighed down by the challenges in this new start and then things get worse. The new next-door neighbours might just be vampires. They seem friendly enough but when the school bully sees him help carry a coffin into their house, his slim chance of fitting seems certain to vanish.
Henry Hoey Hobson, or TripleH as his mother calls him, is used to life being tough. Mum struggles to support them, he’s unusual looking, and until recently was overweight. But surely it shouldn’t be this tough. And because it’s just the two of them, he feels very responsible for his mother. Henry tells his story in first person and he’s hilarious. He has conversations with himself (who else is likely to listen?), tries to stand up to the bully at school and does tasks for the principal (better than admitting he has no friends). Themes are around trying to fit in, making mistakes, not judging others and about the different shapes families can be. This is great fun to read. Recommended for mid- to upper-primary readers.
Henry Hoey Hobson, Christine Bongers
Woolshed Press 2010
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
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