Bailey, Jenn

Henry, like Always

(1) 1-3 Illustrated by Mika Song. Henry, a boy on the autism spectrum (first introduced in the 2019 picture book A Friend for Henry, rev. 5/19), likes everything about school. Life in Classroom Ten is entirely predictable. Mrs. Tanaka posts the schedule for the week, and Henry can count on ­having Music on Wednesdays, Free Choice every Thursday, and Share Time on Fridays. So when Mrs. Tanaka announces that the class will hold a special parade on the upcoming Friday in place of Share Time, Henry responds with dismay. All week, Henry objects, but to no avail. On the big day, Henry hands his teacher his Quiet Card and enters the classroom closet to regroup. There, he encounters classmate Samuel, who is unhappy about the parade for a different reason. Henry finds a solution to Samuel's discomfort, a way to keep Friday as a time to share, and a comfortable place for himself in the parade. The ending of this short chapter book, heavily illustrated and with a format and content to appeal to new readers, is as satisfying as Bailey's understanding prose and Song's gentle, friendly illustrations. Henry is an extremely sympathetic hero--relatable and authentic. His open face expresses anxiety, calm, distress, or delight with just small changes to his eyebrows or mouth. Readers will recognize Henry as a child who succeeds in adjusting to what is, for him, an enormous challenge.


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