An imaginative boy, who walks with forearm crutches and wears glasses, learns to define himself in his own words.
At home, Henry’s “click-click-click”ing crutches—festooned with dinosaur, shark, and bird stickers—make him feel like a heron. But at school, a classmate calls him a “robot,” and even his friend Joel says he walks “like a chicken.” After Henry has a fall in the boys’ bathroom, his legs feel “weird, like they [belong] to a robot.” But Joel helps him up, the boys spend the rest of the day playing together, and Joel encourages Henry without pity. Black and white to suggest invisibility, a heron, robot, and chicken tag along. Joel’s toy dinosaur, whom Henry names Audrey, becomes part of their playful troupe. Later, the invisible creatures listening intently, Henry tells Audrey a story: “Not about a heron or a robot or a chicken. About me—Henry the boy.” Felder deftly balances Henry’s self-consciousness with resilience, which is aided by realistic friendship. Christopherson and Sweeney’s ink-and-watercolor illustrations animate the simple text. Wild swirls and rainbow splatters highlight Henry’s confusion and triumph respectively, and his imaginary, amicable entourage is subtly expressive. The heron peers protectively, and even the faceless robot seems to root for Henry. Such cozy touches as family portraits, a steaming breakfast bowl, and Henry’s pencil drawings emphasize that Henry’s something more than his disability: an appealingly ordinary boy. Henry and his taunting classmate present white; Joel presents black.
A quietly humorous, encouraging story of friendship, disability, and self-confidence. (Picture book. 5-7)