Henrietta and the Perfect Night

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Martine Murray, Henrietta and the Perfect Night, Allen & Unwin, 22 Feb 2017, 89pp., $16.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781760290245

‘If you’re wondering why I’m known as Henrietta the Great Go Getter it’s because of my adventurous spirit and my great determination.  I’m an explorer of life, and that includes trees, bugs, animals and all mysteries’

Henrietta and the Perfect Night is a joyfully tender chapter book by talented author/illustrator Martine Murray.  Following on from her previous work, this is the fifth ‘Henrietta’ instalment aimed at young readers (ages 4-8.)

This irresistibly small hardback is presented in a playfully dynamic text font and complemented by Murray’s dainty sketches over inky block colours and patterns, giving its pages a welcoming childlike-warmth and simplicity.

Each chapter tells a different Henrietta adventure and deals with feelings of impatience and disappointment along with some of the challenging first-time experiences with which many young readers will be familiar.

Murray’s sweetly innocent narrative is both authentic and instantly engaging.  The arrival of a new baby, starting school and making a new friend are all explored from a child’s perspective, using Henrietta’s amusing matter-of-fact voice and refreshing child logic.

‘Sheeza Mageeza. You’ll never guess. I’m invited to my friend Olive Higgie’s house for a sleepover. Me, Henrietta the Great Go Getter. I have never in my life been for a sleepover’. 

There are plenty of wonderfully uplifting and light-hearted moments throughout the text as well as some beautifully poignant ones too.

‘I feel as if life has changed, as if one moment ago it was like it always was and now it’s forever-after different. Now there’s an Albert in the house. It’s a funny feeling. A feeling as special and mysterious as stars’.

Throughout each charming tale, Murray shows how Henrietta overcomes her innate shyness, helping young readers to understand ways in which they too can be brave and resilient. Henrietta’s quietly encouraging parents remain in the background of each story, offering loving reassurance and guidance without ever taking on the main focus of her adventures.

This title is perfect for a shared bedtime story or for young adventurers with a budding sense of their own independence. Henrietta’s stories are packed full of her exciting thoughts and discoveries and infused with a gentle wisdom and a tremendous sense of fun.

Reviewed by Lisa Mercer

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