cover image John Patrick Norman McHennessy

John Patrick Norman McHennessy

John Burningham. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-517-56805-7

Every morning, John Patrick Norman McHennessy sets off along the road to learn and is waylaid by very unusual occurrencesa lion in the woods, a crocodile in the river, a tidal wavethat, according to his teacher, simply couldn't have happened. So, every afternoon he must stay after school to write out his punishment. But one morning as he hurries along, nothing happens, and he arrives at school on time. His teacher, however, is being held up in the roof by a great big hairy gorilla and demands help. John Patrick Norman McHennessy replies, ""There are no such things as great big hairy gorillas in the roofs around here, Sir.'' And off he goes. Is this a fable about the learning of self-deception, a sort of variation on the boy-who-cried-wolf theme? Has John Patrick Norman McHennessy, long punished for telling the truth, uncovered the value of of lying? While children will enjoy the hero's telling off his teacher, adults may find a deeper meaning in Burningham's humorthat knowledge of what is real and what is not can be fickle next to tried-and-true experience. Ages 4-7. (January)