October 26, 2019

A Friend for Henry by Jenn Bailey, illustrated by Mika Song

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 1:42 am by suebe2

A Friend for Henry
by Jenn Bailey
illustrated by Mika Song
Chronicle Books

Like the other children in Classroom Six, Henry hopes for a friend.  Samuel is wildly energetic and Henry finds him a little scary.  Vivianne is a tangle of colors and Henry finds it hard to navigate her rules about the world.  Why is it okay for Vivianne’s Mommy to paint on her fingernails but wrong when Henry paints on her shoes?  He too created a rainbow?

Henry finds it difficult to connect with others.  Their rules confuse him and when his attempts at friendship are often misinterpreted.  But he still wants a friend.  Fortunately Katie is also in his class.

They both love to build with blocks and she doesn’t care that he doesn’t like triangles.  After all, it doesn’t bother him that she doesn’t like broccoli.  They both love the swings and he’s willing to wait at the bottom when she climbs up the ladder to the tall slide.  Free time, playground time, and reading time.  The two find a way to share.

It is one thing to be told how amazing a book is and I’d heard a lot of good things about A Friend for Henry.  Hearing about it and reading it are like hearing about chocolate and then getting to experience it for yourself.  Or broccoli if that’s more your thing.

Sing’s ink and watercolor illustrations help Henry express himself from the apprehension on his face when Samuel turns up the volume to the small smile when he and Katie build a tower and the huge grin when they swing.

Many readers will recognize in Henry a boy much like themselves or someone they know.  Henry is on the autism spectrum.  He is very contained until he is overwhelmed.  He wants to connect but often finds it safer to simply step back.  He tries to reach out and doesn’t understand when people don’t listen.

Pick up a copy of this book for your classroom and your home bookshelf.  It is a great jumping off point for discussions on autism, empathy and friendship.


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