Here's a lovely new picture book! Henry the Goat was written and illustrated by Ella Watkins, and published by Hardie Grant Egmont (2011).
Henry, as perhaps you've guessed, is a goat. He loves to play. He also has great confidence in his own abilities, although the illustrations sometimes tell a different story. Henry bumbles and gambols his way through life, having great fun but leaving devastation in his wake. I loved Henry - he is the eternal optimist and has no thought of consequences like splattered eggs and layers of mud. Luckily, his family understands that a bath fixes everything, and his best friends forgive his exuberant hugs.
Watkins has gifted us with colourful and quirky illustrations that add another layer to the text. Her images are water coloured with details in fine liner pen. There is so much for kids to notice - the way Grandpa's whiskers trail in his dinner, the titles of the books that Henry's friend, Rufus, likes to read, the look of horror on Oscar the water-phobic crocodile's face when Henry knocks a glass of water over - so much to laugh at and enjoy.
There's a Henry the Goat website with an associated shop, and pages where kids can learn more about Henry and his friends, write an email to Henry, and download pages to colour.
I love the way some pages have dialogue in speech bubbles, just like a comic. It makes the book a kind of hybrid of picture book and comic which I think will appeal to both young readers, and young writers who would like to use Henry the Goat as a model for their own books. In fact, the book is doubly a great model for young writers - it was written and illustrated when author Ella Watkins was only fourteen years old. Ella actually first drew Henry when she was eight. I predict parents, teachers and librarians will love to share this remarkable success story with their children.
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