Review of Henry and the Something New

Henry and the Something New Henry and the Something New
by Jenn Bailey; illus. by Mika Song
Primary    Chronicle    56 pp.
3/24    9781797213903    $14.99

In his second early-chapter-book outing (Henry, like Always, rev. 3/23), Henry—a sensitive child who presents as being on the autism spectrum—is ambivalent about a field trip to the natural history museum. “Henry was excited. Everyone in Classroom Ten would ride the bus to the museum. Henry was also worried. Everyone in Classroom Ten would ride the bus to the museum.” Despite his concerns, Henry is looking forward to the dinosaur exhibit. When Samuel’s dad (a field trip helper) asks Henry’s group of three what they’d like to see, “‘Dinosaurs!’ said Henry. But he forgot to say it out loud.” Each of his attempts to make his voice heard is inadvertently thwarted, and Henry patiently accompanies his group to the rock, bug, and mummy displays. Song’s loosely rendered, limited-palette watercolor and ink illustrations telegraph emotion and deepen meaning for newly independent readers. When Henry eventually shouts “DINOSAURS!” the accompanying illustration makes clear his frustration, along with his classmates’ bemused reactions. They finally find the dinosaur room (after getting a bit lost), and Henry’s absolute joy is palpable. Bailey’s relatable characters, familiar scenarios, and gentle humor make this a remarkably satisfying read…whether you embrace the new or not.

From the January/February 2024 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Kitty Flynn

Kitty Flynn is reviews editor for The Horn Book, Inc.

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