Illustrated by Louis Darling
Ages 8 to 10
HarperCollins, 1990, 0380709120
Nothing very interesting happens to Henry Huggins. He goes to school, he plays with his friends, and he goes to the Y. It is all very ordinary. Then one day everything changes. Henry is coming home from the Y when he meets a very thin dog sitting outside the drugstore. The animal is obviously hungry and having a soft heart Henry gives the dog most of his ice cream cone. Henry cannot help wishing that he could take the dog home with him. He calls his mother and she agrees that Henry can keep the dog if he can bring him home on the bus.
Now I don’t know if you have ever tried to bring a strange dog home on a bus, but I can tell you that it is not as easy as it sounds. Henry learns that he can only bring an animal on a bus if it is in a box which is tied with string and if the box has air holes cut into it. Henry does not have such a box so he has to make do with what he can find. The result is disastrous and as the bus makes its way towards Henry’s neighborhood, the dog, whom Henry calls Ribsy, gets out of its packaging and causes chaos to ensue all around him.
This is just the beginning for wherever Ribsy goes, adventures seem to follow. Because of Ribsy Henry finds himself trying to live in a bedroom packed with tanks and jars which are full of guppy fish and because of his very loving and loyal pet Henry ends up having to spend Christmas with green paint in his hair. Then there is the time when Henry enters Ribsy in a dog show. Nothing goes right on this occasion, though and Henry and Ribsy’s photograph does appear in the local newspaper.
Young readers have been enjoying Beverly Cleary’s stories for many years now and they still have enormous appeal. First published in 1950, “Henry Huggins” is a story which will have readers laughing out loud as they share in Henry’s difficulties. Henry certainly does have adventures, but they are not wild and fantastical, instead they are the kinds of things that could, technically speaking, happen to anyone. Any young boy or girl who has a dog will know that odd things can happen when one has a dog to take care of.
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