Just Henry

First things first. I love the name Henry. There seem to be a number of Henrys out there right now - all of them under three foot tall & all of them adorable. Henry also happens to be the name of the main character of my series of picture books (is two a series? are we there yet?).
So I was intrigued by this new novel called Just Henry by Michelle Magorian. Somebody recommended it to me and so I asked the Publishers Group Canada publicist, Jennifer, about it and she very kindly sent me an ARC. She warned me that it is huge, which it is. 882 pages huge. It's like a turquoise paper brick. I don't have a problem with reading that many pages - just with carrying them around with me. And since buses and metros are the main place I get my reading done this presents something of a problem. Reading in bed is the other option, but my wrists weary at holding this up at the end of the day.
Tonight, I propped it up on the table to accompany my late-night, post-teaching, solitary supper of pasta. And for some reason I started at the back. Which is when I realised that this is an Egmont Press publication. I am intrigued by Egmont. I may even have a bit of a crush on them. (Listen to this: "Egmont Press is about turning writers into successful authors and children into passionate readers, producing books that enrich and entertain." I love that kind of talk.) I think I stumbled on their website through Bookwitch and need to find out more. But I did find their statement on "Ethical Publishing" included in this bound proof a little odd in one respect. I am all for "Made Fairly," and "Responsible Forestry" makes sense - although I think encouraging writers to write shorter books might go a fair way to saving a few more trees - but the logic behind "Safety First" eluded me. Here's what the text says:
"Naturally, all of our books meet legal safety requirements. But we go further than this; every book with play value is tested to the highest standards - if it fails, it's back to the drawing board."
What exactly are these legal safety requirements, I am forced to wonder. And does my carpal tunnel risk not apply here?
I am considering customizing one of those fancy harmonica holders to bear the weight of Magorian's 800 plus pages. (And, I must ask, was this necessary? The font seems designed for near-sighted seniors more than adolescents.) But I will prevail. The pub date is May 7th and I expect to have read the book before then. Incidentally, has anyone out there read Goodnight Mister, Tom? Well, apparently 1.2 million people did - but anyone within the sound of my voice?


Anonymous said…
I did. Read Goodnight Mister Tom, that is. I've read all Michelle Magorian's books.

I can tell you that the finished Henry is only 350 pages, so I really can't explain the massive proof. Egmont certainly lost the opportunity of having the book recommended in The Bookseller, because Sue who writes the stuff couldn't face the nearly 900 pages, so didn't read it. Whereas 350 would be OK-ish.

I wonder if the safety stuff has anything to do with its Scandinavian background?

I've just received an invite to the launch of the book in London next month, at a 1930s cinema, which sounds marvellous. So, I hope to go.
Anonymous said…
I think the extra safety testing relates more to their pre-school titles.

They test for sharp corners breakable elements, stuff like that. I've heard plenty of horror stories from so-called "safe" books and toys that end up lodged in unexpected places or turning out to be made partially of heroin etc.

Good point on the weight though... what's an acceptable weight limit for a child? Or does it count as an intitative to combat childhood obesity as they lug it round?
Sara O'Leary said…
Ann, Lucky you - you get all the good invites! And I'm pleased to hear the actual book weighs in at a much more reasonable 350 pages.

Alistair - Books made of heroin? I've heard of very old books having mould with psychotropic properties but never anything like this.
kittenpie said…
Ha - no, there was a toy recently that turned out to contain GHB, a so-called date-rape drug.

And my Henry is also adorable and under three feet - he's a cat.

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