Henry's Song

Kathryn Cave, Author, Sue Hendra, Illustrator Eerdmans Books for Young Readers $16 (26p) ISBN 978-0-8028-5198-7
Cave's (Dragon Rise) scant, didactic story introduces Henry, a bright yellow pudge of a creature. When Henry sings for the first time, his neighbors in the forest are less than appreciative (""What's that noise?""; ""Put a sock in it, Henry!""). In ""a voice like thunder,"" the unseen Maker of All Things silences the cacophonous complaints and poses a question to the grumbling animals: ""I made you, and I made you well.... Now tell me this: what are your voices for?"" After the Maker announces that he will return the following day to learn their answer, the animals decide they will ""sing a proper song,"" forbidding the ill-voiced Henry to participate. Predictably, their plan doesn't sit well with the Maker, who declares they all must sing together. The Maker calls their final song ""perfect""; however, children are more likely to find it merely serviceable (""Lift your hearts, your hands, your voices!/ Please the Maker with your noises!/ Happy hearts and voices bring./ This song's for everyone to sing!""). Some parents may not like the depiction of God, either--this Maker seems to terrify everyone. Hendra's (Oliver's Wood) lighthearted, neon-bright art doesn't support the text: the ""forest,"" for example, is an airy expanse of a few palm trees, a cactus and other vegetation. Such creatures as a purple raccoon and pink-spotted serpent don't camouflage the text's Sunday school tone. Ages 3-8. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
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