It’s nearly Christmas, and all Henley wants is the Getchu 2000 video game. He already has an older version of the game, but he wants the newest version and can’t wait to get his hands on it so he can “level-up” and be a hero in the game. Of course, he’s told Grandpa that he wants it and he’s convinced he’s getting it for Christmas, especially when Grandpa brings in a big box, with a red bow, with his name on it. He can’t wait to open it!
But, he doesn’t find a Getchu 2000 in the box. Instead, he finds a book, The Book, The Living Tale. Even though Henley loves to read, the last thing he wants for Christmas is a book, and the last book he wants is this book, this stupid book. Every member of his family, with the exception of his younger brother who can’t read yet, loves the book and talks about how great it is and how much it helps them day by day. But, to Henley, the book is worthless. Nothing in the book could save his father from having to go to Iraq to fight the war and it didn’t stop his Grandma Rose from dying, either. What good will the book possibly do him? How could Grandpa be so mean?
Little does Henley realize The Book is the key to his survival and that of his family, when he gets to be a real-life hero. He has to find a way to get his hero’s heart without falling prey to the many evils and temptations along the way. And, he must rely on help that is available only in The Living Tale.
Henley: The Book of Heroes, written and illustrated by Jane H. Smith, M.D., is an allegory about our spiritual journey through life, written as an adventure story. Several pencil-sketched illustrations are scattered throughout the text.
What I Like: The writing style is lively and easy-to-read and the story is full of enough twists and turns to satisfy anyone.
What I Dislike: Although I liked the book overall as it is a good read and there are many truths to be found in it, I don’t believe it is well-suited for the suggested reading audience. The publisher doesn’t give an age group, but Amazon lists it as 9-12-year-olds. Henley is not quite 10 years old. Generally speaking, 9-12-year-olds want to read stories with main characters who are older than they are, not ones who are younger or the same age.
And, if Henley doesn’t get his hero’s heart in time, Grandpa will die. Even though “no man is an island” and our actions can and do impact others, I think it’s rather a heavy burden for a 9-year-old to learn his actions are directly related to the health and well-being of his grandpa. How is such a young boy supposed to deal with that?
Overall Rating: Good.
Age Appeal: 9-12.
Publisher Info: Tate Publishing and Enterprises, 2009; ISBN: 9781607998761; Paperback, 433 pages, $22.99.
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Special Info: This is book one in the publisher’s The Living Tales Series. The next one is titled Henley: The Book of Overcomers.