|Image from BarnesandNoble.com|
Henry is a book lover, but not like you and me. He loves books because he loves to eat them! Not only do they taste good, but he finds that when he eats them he gets smarter. He eats a book on goldfish and then knows all about goldfish. So he eats more and more books, figuring he would soon be the smartest person in the world. But then things go very wrong. He's eating so many books that he feels sick and information is getting jumbled around in his mind. He stops eating books, but then he doesn't know what to do. So he picks up a book and begins reading it. And it's good! Now Henry has a new plan to become the smartest person in the world, it just might take him a bit longer.
The text of the book moves along quickly and is written in a conversational tone, making this a fun and quirky read aloud. The illustrations were done on a variety of old papers, maps, book covers, and pages from dictionaries, textbooks, and other books. Jeffers isn’t content to merely paint on these items; he also incorporates them in, around, and through the pictures and the words. The overall the design of the book is clever, featuring a missing bite-sized chunk of the lower right corner of the book.
As you read the book, stop to ask the kids what they think will happen to a boy who eats, instead of reads, books. The book is based upon a slightly silly idea, so feel free to ask some slightly silly questions. What do you think books taste like? Do they all taste the same? What else could Henry eat and what would happen if he did?
After you read this book, help children create books of their own. Check out the book making activities on Susan Kapusinski Gaylord’s website. I really like Literacy Launchpad’s idea to create a paper Henry with an empty brain for kids to place their books. Also check out the directions on the Learning Parade blog to create mixed media artwork like the illustrations in the book. You should be able to find cheap old books, maps, and other printed materials at your local thrift store. Make sure you tell kids that it’s ok to cut up these books, but that they shouldn’t cut up their own books or books from the library.