High-Wire Henry

by Mary Calhoun

ISBN 0-688-08983-6 (Trade edition)
ISBN 0-688-32186-0 (Library edition)

1991 Published by William Morrow 


What's so cute about a little brown dog, anyway? And why does everyone think he's so clever just because he can catch a ball in his mouth? That's what Henry wants to know! When the Man brings home a new puppy named Buttons, the spunky Siamese is no longer the center of attention. But he'll show them. Yow-meowl! Isn't he the best hind-leg walker on four feet? So Henry climbs a tree, stretches his whiskers for balance, and starts tight-rope walk along a branch. But nobody is impressed --until Buttons gets himself into a fix and only an aerial artist like Henry can save him. Mary Calhoun's gently humorous story and Erick Ingraham's breathtaking illustrations combine in a rollicking picture-book adventure that will delight the feline daredevil's countless fans.

"That smart, high-flying Siamese from Cross-Country Cat and Hot-Air Henry is back and as spunky as ever in a pet-style rivalry. This time, Henry must contend with a new puppy who is playful, cute. and worst of all, ingratiating. Poor old Henry tries to imitate the pup's every move, which leaves him looking ridiculous. In desperation, he decides to become a high-wire acrobat and, despite a number of false starts, succeeds. His accomplishment goes largely unnoticed until the pup leaps through a window in pursuit of a squirrel and is trapped on a narrow ledge. Having mastered his art, Henry turns rescuer, earning kudos in his new role as resourceful hero. The story is skillfully narrated with just enough suspense and humor to engage the interest of its intended audience. Erick Ingraham's watercolors offer an elegant and thoughtful visual accompaniment to the narrative. Luminous background impressions of lawn and meadow offer an effective contrast to the softly sculptured, palpably textured forms of fence and house suggesting proportion and grounding the story in realistic, everyday life. The combination of two such obviously sympathetic talents produces a seamless and joyous experience. - HORN BOOK, July 1991

"Henry the Siamese cat previously demonstrated his amazing talent for hind-leg walking in Cross-Country Cat and Hot-Air Henry. Now he is spurred on to literally new heights by the arrival of Buttons the puppy. Like any self-respecting cat, Henry insists on being the center of attention, so he stalks off in a huff when the family fusses over Buttons instead of Henry. He decides that a spectacular feat of high-wire walking is just the ticket to remind everyone of how special he is. Unfortunately, Henry's first try ends with an embarrassing fall, followed by lots of sulking in the apple tree. Then one day Buttons chases a squirrel out onto the second story ledge, and it's Henry to the rescue over the telephone wire. This is a tale of sibling rivalry in the guise of a cat-and-dog story, and children will instinctively empathize with Henry's misery as well as his flamboyant attempts to get attention. Ingraham's pencil and watercolor illustrations, in summery green and beiges, have a lovely light-touched glow. Their textured realism renders even Henry's most improbable actions believable, while the dramatic use of perspective heightens the suspense." BOOKLIST

"A new story about the proud, adventurous, and accomplished Siamese cat featured in Hot-Air Henry (1981) and Cross-Country Cat(1979). Here, Henry feels his position in the family is threatened by a new puppy. Anxious to prove himself more clever than the dog, he decides to become a high-wire walker, but an embarrassing fall almost makes him abandon the scheme. When the puppy foolishly climbs out on a window ledge, however, only Henry can reach him by walking on the telephone line, and he accepts his praise with total satisfaction. The animals in the realistic pictures are especially well drawn, and Henry's every emotion is aptly captured. The full-color illustrations are large enough to use with groups, and upper primary-grade reluctant readers will welcome this as an easy-reading picture book with illustrations that have an adult appearance. This is a laugh-out-loud book that will have young listeners and readers in total sympathy with Henry, for his anger, hurt, frustration, and attention-getting-antics mirror the emotions of any new sibling."--SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL

"Ultimately, this is a pretty silly story, but by the time you realize it, you've already enjoyed the thing. Ingraham's stunningly realistic pictures make up for the lack of credibility in the plot. A new puppy supplants Henry, the Siamese cat, in the family's affections. Henry tries to gain attention by doing tricks. His best is walking on his hind kegs, which he tries to improve upon by walking on a wire. No one is impressed until the cat gets a chance to save the foolish pup's life."--SUN-SENTINEL, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

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