Sunday, October 26, 2014

Book Review: Henry Reed's Journey by Keith Robertson (1963)

In the second book about Henry Reed, a full year has passed since the summer when Henry and  his friend Midge Glass founded Henry Reed, Inc. This summer, Henry is back in the states and headed for Grover's Corner, but this time on a road trip with the Glass family which begins in California. As Henry and the Glasses travel together through several states, they visit famous landmarks like Disneyland, The Grand  Canyon and Yosemite, and become involved in such escapades as panning for gold and joining an American Indian tribe.

This book is every bit as funny as the first Henry Reed story, and perhaps even more entertaining because of the constantly changing setting. Author Keith Robertson uses running jokes - Henry's inability to find fireworks, Mrs. Glass's growing collection of souvenirs, and Midge's insistence on bringing home bags of pinecones for a museum back home - to build up the humor of the story and provide the book with some structure to tie each episodic chapter together. Henry's wry tone as he observes the chaos that often surrounds him and Midge continues to be an effective device and it makes the reader laugh even harder than she might otherwise. The book also does a decent job of providing the reader with a vicarious travel experience. It would be fun to follow the journey Henry takes in real life and read the book as you go.

Robert McCloskey's illustrations are also such a treat. They do clearly date the books to their time period, but I can't resist the vintage eyeglasses, clothing, cars, and drawing style. McCloskey also had such a talent for conveying personality in his artwork, and the facial expressions he draws in this book remind me so much of one of his best picture books, Lentil, where pictures truly do speak a thousand words.

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