by Linda Urban
Candlewick, 2015. Picture book.
Henry’s parents and siblings happily do everything for him: feed him, carry him, dress him, and brush his “widdle toofers.” But Henry is getting bigger and on this day he sets out to do things for himself. In a spin-off of the story of the Little Red Hen, the family members all beg to help with each task. “Let me! Let me!” But Little Red Henry says, “No, thank you. I can do it myself.” They watch with mounting anxiety as Henry proudly accomplishes each task on his own, making their hovering presence obsolete. They mope listlessly about the house, until they start to remember things they used to love to do, like painting, writing, and playing music. The illustrations convey a lot of humor, especially when depicting the family’s over-the-top eagerness to meet Henry’s every need, and the spread where Henry attempts to choose his own outfit, trying on tutus and ponchos in the process. Henry’s family discovers a purpose apart from Henry, Henry discovers his independence, and the whole family is reassured that they will always need each other sometimes.