We simply had to read the final Horrid Henry book. Missing out just wasn’t an option, especially since I credit Francesca Simon’s series with encouraging Toby’s enthusiasm for reading when it was showing serious signs of waning.
Is it just one book too many, though? Or is Horrid Henry on as fine form as ever?
After reading numerous Horrid Henry tales this year I was wondering if there was any more mischief left for Henry to get up to. But Simon has cleverly created four tales that acknowledge current popular culture, pay tribute to Henry’s back catalogue, identify completely fresh ground and poke fun at the whole series (and its critics).
Horrid Henry’s Bake Off is of course highly topical. Desperate to beat Moody Margaret in a local bake off, Henry’s attempts at escaping Margaret’s sabotage inevitably backfire. This story felt as comfortable and familiar as an old pair of slippers. Toby and I had fun guessing how the story would turn out, and we were both wrong, and both sort of right, demonstrating that Simon has a formula that works but can still pull out the occasional surprise. The story even inspired Toby to want to do a bit of baking.
Moving on to the title story Cannibal’s Curse, we were back to witnessing Henry torment his brother Peter. This time a pair of creepy shrunken heads took centre stage and the tables were actually turned on Henry, thanks to a prank by Rude Ralph.
Horrid Henry’s Extra Horrid Guide to Perfect Parents made slightly uncomfortable reading, since it offers comical advice on how to manipulate your parents. However, I don’t think Toby needs the tips. He already has me well trained.
And finally, my favourite was Horrid Henry’s Bad Book. A very funny story about how Henry’s parents blame all his bad behaviour on a series of books called Evil Evie. Sound familiar? A great way to end the book, and indeed the series.
What I would love to see though, if Francesca Simon could ever be persuaded would be a story featuring an adult Horrid Henry. I can see him in the future as the head of some ingenious tech start-up, playing table football and video games in the office! He’s such a great character creation, it’s a shame we’ve had to say goodbye completely.
Read-aloud-ability: 5/5 – such fun to read aloud, and now I know the characters I really enjoy injecting some life into it.
Fun factor: 5/5
Fidget factor: 4/5 – yes, a fair bit of fidgeting was happening.
Fear factor: 2/5 – the bit with the shrunken heads was a little dark and creepy.
Page turnability: 3/5
Mum’s final score: 8/10 – Francesca Simon is still a master at what she does.
Toby’s final score: 10/10 – of course.