My girls and I have been listening to a lot of audiobooks this summer. We made our way through most of Beverly Cleary’s Henry Huggins series. Neil Patrick Harris’ narration really brings the books to life, and made the stories even funnier.
Henry and the Paper Route is the fourth book in the series. As the title suggests, Henry‘s main focus is getting a paper route of his very own. This is something that Henry has wanted for most of the series, and he has even helped his friend Scooter with his paper route… but he has been too young to have a route of his own. Of course, it would be too simple for Henry to receive a paper route as soon as he turns eleven, and you’re going to have to read the book to find out how Henry gets his route.
This is a fun book. There are some changes, like the new boy who moves to Henry’s neighborhood; he’s a genius, and he has his very own mechanical man. But overall, life has changed very little on Klickitat Street- Ramona Quimby is still pestering Henry, and he has to think of how to outwit the feisty preschooler.
There was one part of this book that made my oldest daughter very sad. After hearing about Henry’s birthday party, she asked why Beezus wasn’t invited. She pointed out that Beezus was Henry’s friend too. She’s absolutely right; Beezus is probably Henry’s closest friend, and she’s the one who he seems to spend the most time with. My daughter seemed satisfied with the explanation that Henry must have been having a boys-only party, but her question really made me think about the nature of friendships.
I would recommend Henry and the Paper Route to middle grade readers. Younger children might enjoy hearing this book read out loud. It helps to have read the previous books in the series, but they do function well as standalone books. The series is set in the 1950s, so it’s a little dated in terms of what things cost. Despite the book being 60 years old, modern children can still relate to being jealous of a friend or being interested in robots. I don’t have any sons, but I do know that it can be hard to find books with young male protagonists. I know of at least two series featuring naughty boys, and there’s nothing wrong with naughty boys; they can be very fun to read about. But it’s also nice to read about regular boys who go to school, interact with friends, and play with their dogs. The Henry series is a wonderful series for boys to read about a regular boy living in an average neighborhood.