HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Hot-Air Henry
Author: Mary Calhoun
Illustrator: Erick Ingraham
Publisher: HarperCollins, republished in 1984
ISBN-13: 978-0688005016 (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0688005012 (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-0688040680 (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0688040683 (Paperback)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 3–8
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Calhoun, Mary. Hot-Air Henry (published in 1981 by William Morrow and Co.). Henry is a curious, sassy Siamese cat who was first introduced in Cross-Country Cat, a cross-country skiing adventure. In Hot-Air Henry, a Reading Rainbow Book, Henry stows away in the basket of a hot-air balloon while his owner isn’t looking and goes aloft alone into a clear winter sky. It is a fur-raising flight indeed that shows Henry’s mastery of the wild blue yonder as he quickly learns how the balloon works. One thing that stands out is the faithfulness of illustrator Erick Ingraham’s exceptionally well researched and quite attractive artwork to real life ballooning.
With Henry as the narrator and Ingraham’s images cleverly positioned, children will be able to experience the hot air balloon through Henry’s eyes. When Henry looks down on the world below or rushes to catch a crew of blackbirds, so will the readers. They will find it funny how the cat takes the hot-air balloon and flies it by itself, and they will like how author Mary Calhoun really describes how the cat feels. The book is a great introduction to spirit and perseverance in the face of all odds. Mary Calhoun’s first children’s book, Making the Mississippi Shout, was published in 1957. Since then, she has become the award-winning author of more than fifty children’s books. Others about Henry include Henry the Sailor Cat, Blue-Ribbon Henry, High-Wire Henry, and Henry the Christmas Cat. She also wrote Audubon Cat.