Sunday, July 19, 2009

Weird Henry Berg by Sarah Sargent

It seems that this book is little-known enough to not have a picture. Amazon confirms that it's out of print... Snap it up while you can! It was originally published in 1980, but mine is a 1993 edition.

Henry Berg is a boy whose father was a dope fiend and is no longer around. He spends most of his time imagining himself as an animal, trying to get away from his mother's hounding about his schoolwork. His best friend is a lizard named Vincent, and he's determined to keep him despite his mother's objections and a little old lady's claims that Vincent is a dragon.

I was hoping it would suck, so I could get rid of it and make a little shelf space for another book, but instead it sucked me in from page one. Having been brought to tears by the amazing Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher, I thought this very similar story would just be a cheap imitation or something. Instead, I was brought to more tears.

It's basically a more realistic Jeremy Thatcher, a secret pet story with a dragon, but I didn't find myself comparing them while I was reading. Weird Henry Berg is hilarious, especially where the dragon Aelf is concerned, but it's also not afraid of hard themes. It's a story where things aren't always black and white, where more than one person is in the right, and things can be confusing. I found a fascinating theme of duality in the book, between the ancient and modern, light and dark, age and youth. It's a fantastic, exciting kids' story, with an underlayer of deep, thought-provoking material. I was very impressed.

This, Jeremy Thatcher, and The Monster Garden are three of a kind. I heartily recommend all three.

Buy Weird Henry Berg

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