Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Happy Book Birthday, Henry Heckelbeck and the High-Dive Dare by Wanda Coven

It's time to celebrate a new book's appearance in the world! Today's read is the twelfth...yep, 12...in a series. I have not read any of the other ones before hitting this one, either. I was drawn in by the summer fun (since it is hot outside!) and the cover brought back memories of visits to the local pool. As for the fear of heights...well, that one is all too familiar. I know so many kids who were afraid of the diving board.

Anyway, let's take a peek at this one and see what sort of splash it makes!

Henry Heckelbeck #12
by Wanda Coven
Illustrated by Priscilla Burris
Little Simon
128 pages
ages 5 to 10

In this twelfth Henry Heckelbeck adventure, Henry tries the high dive at the new community pool!

Henry and his friends go to the new community pool that has just opened for summer! And the timing couldn’t be better because it is hot-hot-hot outside. When Henry’s friends see that there are diving boards at the pool, let the splashing begin! But Henry’s got a secret…he’s a little afraid of heights.

With easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, the Henry Heckelbeck chapter books are perfect for beginning readers.

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Henry's fear connects in a familiar way, making him an easy character to sympathize with and root for.

It is super hot outside. So, hot that even lemonade can't cool Henry and his friends down. Deciding to head to the town's pool, the group is ready for a day of fun. When they spot the high-dive, Henry's friends can't wait to try it out. Henry isn't sure he wants to touch something so high...not that he can admit that. Luckily, they decide it's better to work themselves up to it. The three have tons of fun with all sorts of activities, but that high-dive board is constantly visible, reminding Henry that he's going to have to deal with that terrible situation at one point.

I had not read any books in this series, making this book a new adventure for me. It wasn't a problem to dive right in. Henry and his friends are a fun group and come across with realistic finesse. The first chapter allows the reader to get to know Henry and his friends a little before they head off to the pool. Most of the book accompanies the kids as they go from one game and splash-opportunity to the next. It has readers wishing and dreaming of hitting the pool themselves. None of this is done with heavy descriptions, but the dialogue pushes the tale nicely along.

The peer-pressure from the friends comes across realistically. While there wasn't any purposeful malice, Henry's friends' back-and-forth about dares and chickening-out hit home and made Henry's worries understandable. It does, of course, wrap up with a wholesome ending and great message. And there's the magical book, which adds a teensy-tiny bit of imagination.

This one is for readers, who have a pretty good grip on their words but are still learning to sink into larger reads. The font is large and clear for easy reading purposes, and there are illustrations on every page to bring the tale to life. It's a fun bunch with a message as well as familiar fun. I do understand why this series is at book twelve and still running strong.

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