'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 25 March 2011

Review: Henry the Goat

Like many children, Ella Watkins has always loved to draw. Children’s illustrations have such an innate charm and beauty that works on so many levels, but the difference with the drawings of fifteen-year-old Ella Watson is that they honestly look like an adult has done them. An experienced, talented adult.

This extraordinary author/illustrator first drew Henry at eight years of age. Four years later, she self-published her first book – Henry’s Holiday. That’s right. She was twelve.

Now, at age fifteen, booklover Ella has secured the dream – a respected publisher, Hardie Grant Egmont, has just published her second book Henry the Goat – a lolloping story featuring the energetic Henry whose ‘exuberance and love for life is highly contagious’ according to the author.

Indeed, Henry is the epitome of positivity. Told in his voice, we learn that Henry just loves to play. He loves to play so much, he can’t even explain why.

On this particular day, his friends are coming to join in the fun. Henry is excited. He helps Dad tidy the garden, helps Mum make a cake, then quietly attempts to read while he awaits his friends’ arrival (but of course, ends up eating the book!).

Finally! His friends arrive and the play ensues… but is Henry’s overenthusiastic exuberance a hindrance for his friends?

The author’s age becomes more apparent when it comes to the text of this book, but I think it’s wonderful the editors have allowed her youth to shine through without editing her words to the back teeth.

And anyway, the true hero of this book is not only the hilarious Henry and his antics, but the priceless faces on his long-suffering friends and the sparkling wit and humour on every single page. There’s plenty an out-loud guffaw as mud flies, hoses squirt and miffed chooks flap up a storm.

I’m so looking forward to seeing Watkins develop as an author, and can’t wait to see what Henry gets up to next. The sky is certainly the limit for this inspirational young author.

Title: Henry the Goat
Author/Illustrator: Ella Watkins
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont, $16.95
Publication Date: January 2011
ISBN: 9781921690877
Format: Soft cover
For ages: 3 - 8
Type: Picture Book