Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Summer Reading Assignment #1, 11 June, 2013: Henry Reed's Jouney by Keith Robertson

Summer is here, and while it's great to be outside doing things in the fresh air,it's also a great time to enjoy a good summer book! (Of course, you can do that outside in the fresh air too!) Over the summer months I'm going to talk about great 'summer' books to read with your kids.These are books set during the summer, so you'll feel part of the story. I'm in my 50's, so these are mostly books I read as a kid that I read to my kids when they were little. Some of them may be out of print, but they can be found at libraries,second hand bookstores,(Let's not forget to keep real stores alive.), on Amazon, Ebay, or your favourite auction site.
   First up is a book from a whole series of 'summer' books. Henry Reed's Journey by Keith Robertson is one of the Henry Reed series that also includes Henry Reed, Inc.,Henry Reed's Babysitting Service,Henry Reed's Big Show,and Henry Reed's Think Tank. They're all great books, and you may want to start with the first one, but this is my favourite. 

Henry starts out the first book as a 13 year old, son of a diplomat, who has travelled the world. Because he has never spent time in the U.S. Henry's father thinks it would be a good idea for Henry to spend the summer with his aunt and uncle in Grover's Corner,New Jersey, where Henry's mother grew up. Grover's Corner is a very small 'hole in the road' town of only a few houses, but Henry still manages to have adventures, even if they are unintentional.(Henry's uncle often chuckles and shakes his head, noting how something always seems to happen when Henry is around.) Henry Reed's Journey finds Henry flying into California, having been invited to travel across country with a family he befriended in Grover's Corner the previous summer. Henry spends a lot of his time searching for fireworks to buy, but he and his friend Midge still find time to start a gold rush, become honorary Native Americans, win an art competition,take in a parakeet and some horned toads, and create a commotion of one kind or another nearly everywhere they go. Remember that these books were written between 1958 and 1986, so a few references may not be familiar to your kids---or even to you! (For instance, at one point Midge is sure she has spotted movie star Tab Hunter.) But usually it doesn't matter, and if it does,that's what the internet is for, right?! Also, some things are outdated or politically incorrect these days:Native Americans are referred to as Indians, and Henry is a chauvinist. But you can use these as points to discuss the cultural differences of the times. Besides, Henry's chauvinist ideas are supposed to sound ridiculous. (It's very obvious that Henry's friend Midge is quite a match for him,intellectually, creatively,and otherwise.) The books are funny and clever and easily enjoyed by both kids and parents. The target age range for the books is supposedly 9 to 11,but depending on your child's interest I think you could start them a bit younger, and of course, I still enjoy rereading Henry every now and then! And what better way to kill some time on a hot, sweaty, summer car trip than to read about one?

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