THE ADVENTURES OF HENRY WHISKERS and THE LONG WAY HOME (THE ADVENTURES OF HENRY WHISKERS) by Gigi Priebe and Daniel Duncan, Aladdin, Aug. 29, 2017, softcover, $5.99 (ages 7-10)
I’m always on the lookout for books for the younger middle-grade set that are smart, enjoyable and don’t talk down to their readers. The new Henry Whiskers series by Gigi Priebe and illustrated by Daniel Duncan is an excellent example of this.
The Adventures of Henry Whiskers came out in January, and its follow-up, The Long Way Home, is out Aug. 29.
The star of the series is Henry Whiskers. Henry and his family live in Windsor Castle’s most famous exhibit: Queen Mary’s Dollhouse. In fact, 25 generations of Henry’s family have lived there and have served as caretakers of sorts.
Henry and his family live in the base of the dollhouse. When the exhibit closes to visitors for the day, his family has the run of the house, keeping it clean and exploring. Henry doesn’t need to explore too much, though. His favorite place is the dollhouse’s library.
In the first book of the series, Henry’s youngest sister, Isabel, goes missing, and it’s up to Henry and his best friend and cousin, Jeremy, to find her. The search takes them to the bowels of Windsor Castle and the scary world of Rat Alley.
The Long Way Home follows Henry and Jeremy on another wild adventure.
When Henry discovers an old map in the drawer of the library’s desk, he can’t wait to show it to Jeremy. The map has a big X that must mark the spot where something special is bound to be hidden — maybe even treasure.
But before Henry can even share the map with Jeremy, humans in the Windsor Castle kitchen catch the duo. Most-certain death is upon them until one of the humans decides to relocate the two to a park instead of the garbage bin. The pair’s relief is short-lived, though, when they realize they’ve been relocated far from the dollhouse and Windsor Castle.
The two have got to get home, and the map might be the key. The road will be treacherous, but together with the help of some new friends, they may just make it back to their home.
There’s something about imagining little creatures living parallel lives to those we live that resonates well with readers. Henry Whiskers is no different. It’s a charming series reminiscent of Beverly Cleary’s Ralph the mouse series, the Borrowers series and The Cricket in Times Square.
The books are on-point for lower middle-grade readers, easing them in to chapter books with ease. Lovely black-and-white illustrations grace the top of the page with each new chapter, serving as the perfect tease for what’s to come.
The Long Way Home is slightly longer than its predecessor and the adventure a bit more grand, but the first book is the perfect setup for what could become a long-lasting series.
These books also feature a great jumping-off point in the form of Queen Mary’s Castle, which does really exist. “Built for Queen Mary by the leading British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens between 1921 and 1924 … the house is filled with thousands of objects made by leading artists, designers and craftsmen, nearly all on the tiny scale of 1:12.” (Royal Collection Trust)
Both Henry Whiskers books are available in hardcover and paperback, and at $5.99 a piece, it’s hard to not go for the paperbacks. But as good as they are, you may want to spring for the hardbacks and make them a more permanent part of your collection.
To learn more about Gigi Priebe and Henry Whiskers, and to download a free curriculum guide, visit gigipriebe.com.
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