When Henry Caught Imaginitis, by Nick Bland

Henry was a very serious boy.
His room was always tidy and he always
buttoned his shirt right to the top.
Henry never daydreamed or played with toys.
He preferred doing sums and straightening
things that were wonky.
Until one day Henry had a thought
that didn’t make any sense at all.

Henry lives in an ordered world. An organised and slightly dull, monotonic world. His clothes are tidy, his socks pulled up. His hair part is straight, so are the flowers – after he’s tied them up. He is a thoroughly sensible boy. Then one day, while preparing to clean his teeth, he has a thought that makes no sense at all. And for the first time some colour enters his world. He tries to combat and banish subsequent nonsensical thoughts but the results are quite unexpected. Henry is determined to find an answer to his problem, and of course he does. His world will return to normal. When it’s proper and sensible that it do so.

Order is a good thing. It helps to structure the day and organise the week. But it can go too far. Nick Bland introduces the reader to a little boy, Henry, who seems to have received a double-, or triple-dose of order. Too much order and wonder of life can be lost. And so it is with Henry. There doesn’t even seem to be any joy in the tasks he completes so diligently. Imagination, or as Bland calls it, ‘Imaginitis’, can strike at any time. It is not ordered or structured, but wild and bright and wonderful. And it is something to be embraced. The early monotone spreads are invaded by just the hint of colour. Even this is enough to disrupt the shadows of Henry’s life. The colour elements wax and wane as Henry struggles with his dilemma, until they triumph as he does in establishing the appropriate place for imagination in a life. The text is very spare and delivered in almost deadpan prose, with the illustrations providing much of the humour. Recommended for 4-7 year olds.

13347214 When Henry Caught Imaginitis, auth/ill Nick Bland
Scholastic 2008
ISBN: 9781741690309

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