When I go to library sales, I’m always looking for the older, hardback books. Older because they tend to not be offensive and have the same values I’d like to share with my son. Hardback because they tend to stand up better. This week’s book had a third attraction—the illustration on the cover. It reminded me of other favorite books: Homer Price and rescued book #17 Centerburg Tales. Sure enough, when I looked at the title page and saw it was illustrated by Robert McCloskey. That was good enough for me to take a chance on it. And what a delight it’s turned out to be. This week’s rescued book is…
Henry Reed, Inc.
Robertson, Keith, and Robert McCloskey (Illus.). New York: Viking, 1958. 239 pp.
The title character is the son of a diplomat stationed in Naples, Italy but he’s spending the summer before eighth grade with his aunt and uncle in Grover’s Corner. His history and government teacher has asked him to keep notes about his experiences to share with the other students in the fall so he begins a journal—the very book we hold in our hands. In fact, the book begins with instructions and an address to return the book in case it gets lost. Rather than chapters, we find dated entries of varying lengths. After all, some days are more interesting than others. Take the day Henry decided to become an entrepreneur.
Well, I went into the research business today. It was simpler than I thought it would be. All it took was a can of paint and now I’ve got somebody who wants to be a partner and is willing to contribute something to the business. I haven’t made any money yet, but even in the research business I imagine it takes a day or so to get rolling.
The paint, as you can see, was to paint his name on the side of the barn. The business partner is a neighbor girl named Midge. Her contribution to the business is a pair of white rabbits, but as you can see by the net in her hand one of them has gotten away. In fact Midge and Henry spend the rest of the book trying to recapture Jedidiah Rabbit (Midge can’t become a full partner and get her name on the sign until she comes through with her part of the bargain). Other great characters are Agony, the beagle and ill-tempered neighbors Mr. and Mrs. Apple (get it, they’re crab apples?).
For a research business, they certainly have a lot of side money makers – selling fishing worms, painting and selling box turtles, even striking oil. Okay, that last bit was actually digging into an abandoned, underground fuel tank. They still managed to pump it out and sell it to Midge’s father. Other adventures aren’t as successful – Agony gets stuck in a culvert pipe, and an attempt to remove a hornets nest end up with the whole town losing power (you’ll have to read why).
Now I’m on the lookout for further chronicles of Henry Reeds adventures: Henry Reed’s Journey, Henry Reed’s Baby-Sitting Service, Henry Reed’s Big Show and Henry Reed’s Think Tank. If they’re anything like this first book, we’ve got a lot of wholesome summer reading ahead. Of course, my local library was the one to discard this book so I’ll have to look for the others elsewhere.
You can find a list of all my Rescued Books here.