Ask Henry

Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 9/1/2007
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
5 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Saturday, September 1, 2007
I came across this slightly musty 1962 hardcover at a local charity book sale, and thought it looked interesting. Turns out that it's an advice column written by an 11-year-old Ottawa boy - one that ran as a syndicated column in quite a few newspapers at the time! Young Henry even got to appear on the Jack Paar show and "To Tell the Truth" [which I used to watch, so now I'm wondering if I saw his episode!].

The book is mostly a collection of columns, with some explanation and background from Makow, whose writing style is pleasantly glib - hints of Dennis the Menace tempered by what seems to be a pretty good awareness of human nature. His attitudes are definitely of his time in many respects, especially regarding physical punishment - he thinks that a well-timed spanking can be very efficacious (though, to do him justice, he does come down very much against excessive punishment of any kind, pointing out that beatings don't work very well if they're handed out for no good reason!), and his views about the proper roles of boys and girls are definitely pre-women's-lib. [Sadly, I gather from some web-surfing that his views in that area have not changed...] But much of the advice is right on point and is often quite amusing. This bit about a kid making prank phone calls gives the general idea:
Dear Henry: My son loves to phone up people. He will, for example, call up a bakery and ask if they have hot rolls. When the reply is "yes" he would say: "I hope you will sell them," and he hangs up. What do you think of this? Amused and Angry

Dear Amused and Angry: I think it is a lot of fun. It's a good exercise in public speaking. It will only bother grumpy people but it will amuse good sports. But I wouldn't say everybody should start doing it.
I'm not a fan of prank calls, but I had to laugh at Henry's take on them! Then there's the classic one:
Dear Henry: today my mom spanked me for nothing. Is that fair? Sore

Dear Sore: It depends how much nothing you did.
One of the more blatantly out-dated passages could be read as sarcastic humor, but I suspect that Henry was quite sincere at the time:
Should boys, the superior sex, learn to do a girl's job around the house? Many a time my mother goes shopping for an hour and it turns out three hours. I got hungry and learned to cook the fundamentals. It may also come in handy in case you run into one of those girls who didn't learn her trade.
Ahem. Took a little while to unclench my teeth about that section, even allowing for youth and an early '60s viewpoint. Hopefully modern readers will find it amusingly archaic...

Some of Henry's advice surprised me very pleasantly, though, such as this:
Dear Henry: Which is a better child: One who obeys at once or one who likes to argue it out? Undecided

Dear Undecided: The one who argues it out is the better. A kid who obeys on first command every time is no better than a trained dog. The kid who argues it out shows that he will fight for what he thinks is right.

How do you think we got a free country? In the olden days if everyone had strict parents, we would still belong to the British.... I know some kids who have strict parents; they are perfect children. But I could boss those kids around easily 'cause they are used to taking orders.
While Henry's aim in making that response may have been to get himself off the hook for sassing his parents, I do think he made a very good point there. But I do wish I hadn't found those web references to his more recent writings, as I'd have preferred imagining that this bright and funny little kid eventually figured out that cooking and sewing are not every woman's "trade"!

Journal Entry 2 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Friday, September 14, 2007
I'm offering this for a bookray; see forum post here.

Bookray instructions:

Please journal the book as soon as you receive it, and PM the next person in line for their address so you'll have it ready.
Note: even if you've sent books to that person before, please PM them before mailing this one, to confirm that the address is correct and that they're able to take on a bookring book at this time.
Try and read the book promptly - ideally, within a month of receiving it. (If you expect to take longer, you can request to be put at the end of the list. If you find you're swamped with other books when the person before you contacts you about the bookring, you can ask to be skipped, and then let me know whether you'd like to be moved down the list or dropped entirely. If you receive the book and find it's taking longer than you'd planned to get through it, I'd appreciate an update in its journal entries or on your profile, just to let me and the other participants know you haven't forgotten it.)

When you're ready to pass the book along, please make another journal entry containing your comments about the book and stating where you've sent it, and set the book's status code to "traveling". [If you find that you're having problems contacting the next person in line, or don't think you can manage to mail the book as originally agreed, please let me know; I'll be glad to try to work something out.]

Participants, in mailing order:

kiptrix [South Carolina]
Megi53 [Virginia]
Bluestocking88 [Washington]
KiwiinEngland [Ireland]
jjlanes [Australia]
sarahbear [Australia]

Journal Entry 3 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Controlled release: I sent this book off to Kiptrix in South Carolina today, to kick off the book ray. Hope you enjoy it!

Journal Entry 4 by kiptrix from Summerville, South Carolina USA on Saturday, September 22, 2007
This book arrived in today's mail. It shouldn't take long to read, then I'll send it on to the next ray member. Thanks, Gory.

Journal Entry 5 by kiptrix from Summerville, South Carolina USA on Saturday, October 6, 2007
This was generally amusing. I read it a few chapters at a time. Henry was a pretty clever boy, giving out some good advice about such matters as allowances, and how to help a below average student, as well as some not so wise (teachers aren't monsters, but human beings who couldn't find another job). And the best may have been to a grandma: "You can't buy love. Your grandchildren will remember you better for being a nice helpful grandma, not for occasionally giving them money or taking them to dinner."

I'll be mailing this out to Megi53 in the beginning of the week. Thanks, Gory, I enjoyed this change of pace.

Journal Entry 6 by Megi53 from Danville, Virginia USA on Friday, October 12, 2007
Received today -- along with a postcard of Charleston and a bookmark showing a kid who looks like Little Jack Horner (how appropriate!).

The cartoons are great, and the advice looks wise, too. I didn't see anything concerning kids over about the age of 13 (I'd love to see the definitive answer to: "Should I loan my car to my teenage son just to save $200 in airport parking fees?") but I'm sure I can find plenty of useful tips to apply at school with my 10-to-15-year-old students.

Journal Entry 7 by Megi53 from Danville, Virginia USA on Monday, October 15, 2007
Well, it turns out Henry did address the problems of older kids. There was a 21-year-old, married, whose mother complained that he didn't wear shorts or drink milk any more -- one of several passages where I laughed aloud.

There was a 16-year-old hanging around with "black leather jacket" boys (page 130). Henry engagingly admitted he was too young to properly advise, so an American school counselor wrote in recommending the guy join a lumber camp, a farm, or one of the armed services.

The most poignant and mature exchange was at the end of Chapter 13, "Bedee-bye time", describing a father who "sleeps his life away". (Henry astutely suggested visiting a doctor.)

Other old-fashioned heartwarmers included Henry's P.S. which began "This world is very interesting and beautiful. God made it beautiful and people made it interesting."; (is this grammatical or what?) and Chapter 6's title, "Days to look forward to".

Two exceptionally hilarious segments were the summer vacation canoe fight (complete with illustration) and the letter from a girl complaining about Henry himself! (see pages 150-1) His answer: " just happens that I know this boy and I will get him to stop."

Thanks for sharing the fun and the wisdom. I have Bluestocking88's address and will be mailing the book to her later this morning.

ETA: Had to mail priority due to postcards (I added one!), bookmark, and weight.

Journal Entry 8 by Bluestocking88 from -- Wild released somewhere in the state, Washington USA on Thursday, October 18, 2007
Arrived safely in today's mail. Thanks, and it should be moving again shortly.

Journal Entry 9 by Bluestocking88 from -- Wild released somewhere in the state, Washington USA on Tuesday, October 30, 2007
This was a fun book to read. I enjoyed Henry's take on things and his practical advice. The chapter on food and food issues was my favorite as parents that play food games are a pet peeve of mine. His advice that "hunger overcomes any other interests" and "Maybe you put too much grub on your girl's plate" was excellent and something I should pass along to some friends and family. I liked his bedtime chart, and was glad to see my children were right on track. Thank you to GoryDetails, this is a gem.

I'm sending it off to KiwiinEngland in the next few days.

Journal Entry 10 by Bluestocking88 from -- Wild released somewhere in the state, Washington USA on Friday, November 2, 2007
This was sent to Ireland in today's mail. Thanks again!

Journal Entry 11 by wingkiwiinenglandwing from Wellington City, Wellington Province New Zealand on Friday, November 9, 2007
This book safely arrived in the Emerald Isle this mornign. One week from America to Ireland, that's not a bad postal service.

Thanks bluestocking88 for passing this one.

Journal Entry 12 by wingkiwiinenglandwing from Wellington City, Wellington Province New Zealand on Friday, November 16, 2007
Oh dear, I wasn't in the right frame of mind for this book. Every time Henry opened his mouth (or I suppose put pen to paper) I just though - annoying brat who is reinforcing stereotypes.

Posted on 23rd November to Australia - printed paper class, so will be interesting to see the speed of the delivery.

Journal Entry 13 by wingkiwiinenglandwing from Wellington City, Wellington Province New Zealand on Tuesday, August 19, 2008
JJlanes has gone awol and is not answering any pms.

Sorry about that - the ring has stalled.

Are you sure you want to delete this item? It cannot be undone.