cover image Little Red Henry

Little Red Henry

Linda Urban, illus. by Madeline Valentine. Candlewick, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6176-2

Henry’s family is so obsessed with infantilizing its youngest member, “their little redheaded Henry,” that they even vie for who gets to brush what Mama insists on calling his “widdle toofers.” Fed up, Henry expertly handles his own dental hygiene, chooses his own clothes (after carefully and comically weighing his options), and goes off to a play with his friend next door—and a new era is born. Valentine’s (George in the Dark) cleverly composed cartooning slyly portrays how a skewed domestic dynamic rights itself. Henry’s family members exude anxiety about their shifting roles, while Henry’s confident stride and straight-on gaze speak to a sturdy sense of self. From start to finish, it’s an irresistible story for the target audience: Henry’s assertiveness results in an epic play date, as Urban’s (Mouse Was Mad) terrific text elaborates (“They teeter-totted and monkey-barred and triumphed gloriously on the battlefield”), and his family is still at his beck and call at bedtime. Who says you can’t have it all? Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Apr.)