Horrid Monday morning

Horrid Henry is just like Marmite apparently?! You either love or hate him… The Times UK investigates why:

To put it simply, Horrid Henry splits parents between those who love the books, and those who hate them. Some think that Henry is a bad influence, and that he causes children to behave like him. Others hate the fact that the stories don’t have a moral: Henry doesn’t always get his comeuppance or realise the consequences of his behaviour. One recent thread on mumsnet included the comment, “We do NOT do Horrid Henry, nor will we,” while another parent bemoaned how her son’s behaviour “plummets” when he reads them.

If Henry, Horrid or otherwise, can get reluctant readers reading (it sounds like a line from the 12 days of Christmas) then he works - I’m sure there are thousands of parents/teachers and librarians that would agree. (And it is always a sign of success if you manage to rile someone enough to lobby against your book. Right?)

What Henry gets up to in the books is most of the appeal to kids - would anyone want to read about Perfect Peter instead? (Maybe, but only a fraction of those who read the current incumbent)

I have received letters that are tear-stained with gratitude because parents are so thrilled that their children are reading. That makes me flushed with pleasure….

…He does nothing that every child hasn’t done,” she claims, adding that when people say their child’s behaviour has been affected by the stories, she takes it with a pinch of salt. “Kids have always fought - it goes back to Cain and Abel. Yes, Henry calls his brother names and fights, but he also reflects something very truthful about children’s lives. That’s the humour of family life, which is full of disasters. - Francesca Simon.

For the record I hate Marmite.

Written by david. in: Reading, childrens books | Tags: ,


  • Was reading him last night for my 7 & 8 year old boys - they were rapt, yet interjecting regularly. I think they’re well written - very perceptive. The characteristics are exaggerated (of course), Perfect Peter as much as HH himself. But I can’t see it having a major effect on behaviour - unless the kids are reading these stories in a vacuum, with no guidance or exposure to other ‘role model’ characters. I think parents can use these sort of characters/yarns as broad strokes to talk to kida about behaviour. Sort of WWHHD? And chat about why that’s not neccessarily a good way to treat others.

    Comment | December 8, 2008
  • Thanks PJ - I haven’t heard of any incidents of kids using HH as a role model for destruction yet either…

    Interesting to that they haven’t appeared in the US yet because of influence concerns. Strange.

    Comment | December 8, 2008
  • Carbags

    Horrid Henry is a brilliant terror.
    Like Just William, My best fiend and Dennis the Menace.
    I don’t think he is a model for destruction, but he certainly does tickle the funny bone. If people want bland moralistic clones in their books they can purchase Madonna’s latest effort.

    But then i love marmite…..

    Comment | December 10, 2008

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