Julia Hubery (text), Lucia Masciullo (illus.), The Ballad of Henry Hoplingsea, Hardie Grant Egmont, 1 Sept 2016, 32pp., $24.99 (hbk), ISBN: 9781760121259
Oh, sweet Henry – the lengths he will go to to win his darling Carmelita’s heart are certainly admirable. Too bad for farmer Henry, Carmelita has her sights set on the glamorous life of a princess (don’t we all!). Knowing what she wants from a husband, Henry Hoplingsea sets off to become the knight in shining armour his beloved is pinning for.
The gorgeous pencil and watercolour illustrations by Lucia Masciullo sit perfectly alongside Julia Hubrey’s text. The images are gently colourful and endear Henry to us even more. His faithful companions of chicken and cow are a delightful addition to his adventures.
While knights usually receive all the glory, it’s a kind-hearted farmer who’s the hero of this story. Henry’s compassion and understanding towards ogres, trolls and dragons demonstrates emotional intelligence.
The message behind this story is an important one for young children. Like Carmelita, we must learn to appreciate what we have rather than always long for something else. The Ballard of Henry Hopplingsea also shows us that changing our clothes and the way we do things won’t necessarily change who we are.
Reviewed by Fiona Miller-Stevens