Henry Reed, Inc.

Book: Henry Reed, Inc.
Author: Keith Robertson
Illustrator: Robert McCloskey
Publisher: Puffin Books, republished in 1989
ISBN-13: 978-0670367962 (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0670367966 (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-0140341447 (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0140341447 (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 8-12
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
Disclosure: Any books donated for review purposes are in turn donated to a library. No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.
For more information e-mail homeschoolbookreview@gmail.com .

Robertson, Keith. Henry Reed, Inc. (published in 1958 by The Viking Press Inc., 625 Madison Ave., New York City, NY 10022). Henry Harris Reed is thirteen years old and going into the eighth grade. His father is in the diplomatic service, so the family has lived abroad for much of Henry’s life, the latest time in Naples, Italy, where Henry attends the American school. However, his parents want him to get a taste of life in the United States, so they send him to spend the summer with his mother’s brother and sister-in-law, Uncle Al and Aunt Mable Harris, in Grover’s Corner near Princeton, NJ. His school assignment for the summer is to take notes on his experiences and then tell the other students about them when classes start again. Henry, who likes to be called Hank, decides to start up a research firm, Henry Reed, Inc., using an old barn on his mother’s property which is next door to his uncle and aunt’s home.

With the help of his newfound dog Agony and the twelve-year-old neighbor girl Margaret Glass, who prefers to be called Midge and has a weird sense of humor, Henry becomes involved in raising rabbits (if they can ever catch Jedidiah), digging and selling earthworms, painting turtles, ridding the neighborhood of wasps, solving a road culvert problem, hunting truffles, doing a balloon experiment with a pigeon, and even drilling an oil well. They actually found oil, but can you guess from where the oil actually came? I have read and reviewed two books in the Henry Reed series, Henry Reed’s Baby-Sitting Service (1966), which tells about Henry’s second summer in Grover’s Corner during which Henry and Midge establish a baby sitting service to make money and find a disappearing child and a peacock among their charges, and Henry Reed’s Big Show (1970), which is about a later summer when Henry and Midge want to put on a play but end up doing a rodeo instead. So when I saw the first one in a used book sale, I snapped it up.

Henry Reed, Inc., presented as a journal (NOT a diary) of Henry’s summer experiences in the States, is a very funny story. ALA Booklist says that Henry and Midge’s projects are “usually profitable to them, but often hazardous to the adults involved.” Obviously, we live in a different time and under different circumstances from the days of Henry Reed (he would be about 69 today), but the book is a nostalgic look, if somewhat wild and wacky, at what life used to be like in small town America in the mid-twentieth century. Other than the fact that Uncle Al Smokes a pipe, there is nothing objectionable, not even any common euphemisms that I recall. It is stated that the Harrises and Henry attend church services, although, since he had just arrived the day before, they didn’t go his first Sunday back so that he could look around and get used to things. Other books in the series are Henry Reed’s Think Tank and Henry Reed’s Journey.

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