Friday, February 05, 2010

How Sweet It Is: Henry in Love by Peter McCarty

Henry knows it going to be a good day when he awakes to the smell of blueberry muffins. Packing an extra one in his backpack, he heads off to school with brother Tom and friend Sancho. Along the way the three meet up with a high school football player who amazingly offers to throw them some long ones. To his surprise, Henry snags a pass and a compliment.

"Way to go, little man! You're pretty fast. I have a sister your age--she's fast, too!"

Henry knew his sister.

He thought she was the loveliest girl in his class.

Her name was Chloe. She sat in the back row.

The truth is, Henry is sweet on Chloe, who in her demure pink dress, wears a flirtatious smile whenever Henry meets her eye across the classroom.

On the playground he tries to impress her with his forward somersault, which she immediately matches with a carefree cartwheel, and when Henry is IT in a game of tag, Chloe scampers up the climbing bars, with a coy "You'll never catch ME." Henry is even more smitten and decides to make his move.

"You're not going to talk to a GIRL, are you?" asked Sancho.

But after all, it is Henry's lucky day. Back in the classroom, his teacher decides to change the seating chart then and there, and Henry finds himself right beside the object of his affections. At snack time, he remembers the beautiful blueberry muffin in his backpack and is thrilled to exchange it meaningfully for a carrot with the coquettish Chloe, and love is in bloom!

Pete McCarty's charmingly illustrated Henry in Love (Balzer and Bray, 2010)captures the subtleties of a schoolboy crush in this heartwarming story of very young love. Accented with hearts and flowers whenever Henry's and Chloe's gazes lock on each other, McCarty's text is never patronizing, expressing the seriousness of Henry's feelings perfectly in this story of very young sweethearts.

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