Baloney Henry P.

by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith

Henry P. Baloney is late for school on Tuesday — again — and his teacher,... read more

Henry P. Baloney is late for school on Tuesday — again — and his teacher, Miss Bugscuffle, has had it. “That’s it . . . Permanent Lifelong Detention . . . unless you have one very good and very believable excuse.” Needless to say, Henry, a little guy from another planet with a very large, very active imagination, has no shortage of excuses, which he rolls into one incredible adventure. Jon Scieszka’s “decoding” of Henry’s account (he writes in an afterword that the transmission came directly from deep space) is a delightful blending of a child’s fanciful storytelling and wordplay in which many of the nouns in English have been replaced with words from other languages. Why was Henry late? He misplaced his zimulus (pencil) and ended up in a razzo (rocket) heading toward the planet Astrosus (unlucky). The meaning of the words can usually be understood by their context and by the clues in Lane Smith’s amusing illustrations, which were created, it is noted, by a “machine-assisted human, and/or human-assisted machine.” A “decoder” at the end of the story gives the language of origin and literal meaning for all of the non-English words. One of Molly Leach’s dynamic design elements includes printing those words in a different color from the rest of the text. This book can set the stage for more creative storytelling and playful encounters with language. (Ages 6–10)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2002

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