Sunday, May 25, 2008

Henry and the Paper Route, or even the genius kid is too dumb to outsmart Ramona...

So I'm cheating a little bit with the Henry books by not starting out with Henry Huggins, but forgive me ok? I don't have a copy of Henry Huggins yet and I'm feeling motivated, so we're going to have to skip around a little bit. Something tells me no one is going to have a hard time following the storyline. And if you do, well... I recommend testing. Our inaugural foray into the wonderful world of Klickitat Street opens with a very bored Henry Huggins peeling apart a golf ball to see what's inside. I'd mock, but I spent my childhood sewing buttons onto socks for puppet shows and making earrings out of safety pins and beads. Henry's reflecting on his boredom and the fact that he wants things to be different, but isn't quite sure what exactly he wants to change. Gah, I think I just profoundly related to a kids' book yet again, someone remind me to mention that to my therapist. So Henry's sitting there on the front steps waxing philosophical, when guess who walks by? That's right, folks: Beezus and Ramona! This book just got automatically awesome, and we're only eight pages in. Beezus and Henry chat a bit, and off to the side, Ramona is hiding behind a telephone pole and jumping in and out of its shadow. Henry's confused, because being a mere mortal he cannot comprehend the genius behind a mind like Ramona Quimby's, so Beezus explains that Ramona's been trying to escape her shadow ever since she heard the "I have a little shadow" poem. Which incidentally, the Google just revealed was written by Robert Lewis Stevenson. Way to introduce us eight year olds to a good author on the sly there, Beverly. Sadly, Beezus and Ramona have to leave us to go to the store for Mother, so I'm stuck recapping Henry. I'll miss you, Ramona. Henry thinks a little more about how he wants to do something important, when who should arrive but Scooter McCarthy. Scooter McCarthy, with a name like that, I imagine him as the star of the high school football team who enjoys tackling the tight ends. (Everything written in the fifties has a closeted homosexual somewhere, expect lots of outings in this blog.) Scooter's entrance is apparently a source of some inspiration to our beleaguered Henry and low and behold, he suddenly realizes the Solution to All His Problems: getting a paper route. Man, I want to live in Beverly's world. So with major plot point firmly established, I guess that brings us to our cover:

Isn't that bicycle AWESOME? I have kind of an obsession with cruiser style bikes and desperately want a Schwinn Debutante because it's the cutest thing ever. I mean seriously, I might actually LOOK FORWARD to going to work in the morning if I was commuting in on this hotness:

So Henry, his fate decided and his path in life firmly before him, decides to get a paper route. Scooter's dubious about Henry's capabilities when it comes to something so complex and important, but clearly he hasn't seen the cover, where we plainly see that Henry Huggins is a paper boy extraordinare.You fail at judging people, Scooter. Leave the judging to ME, I can do enough for all of us, I promise. And Scooter? You're gay. Ignoring the naysayer, Henry sets off to meet his fate head on, determinedly striding out into the world to leave his mark when he happens upon a rummage sale and... ooh kittens! Someone get that boy some Adderall. Not that I can blame him for being distracted by a rummage sale, who DOESN'T love those? I mean, I once got 20 Babysitter's Club books for $3 when I stopped by one at random. (And now looking back on all the blunders I made by getting my theories of social interaction from Claudia friggin' Kishi, I think the garage sale people got the better end of the deal.) So Henry is momentarily distracted from fulfilling his destiny by four kittens. If it were puppies, I'd be sympathetic, but cats really don't do it for me. They're going to be taken to the pound if no one buys them, and Henry, like me, is apparently a huge softie because he's appalled by the thought. So he buys them all, puts them in his jacket, and goes along on his merry way. I'd mock, but I can't. I currently have four dogs in the house, my excellent lab mix, my roomate's toy rat and catahoula retard, AND a six month old pit puppy who was abandoned near my office. I've been listening to puppy cries and cleaning up accidents all day because I can't resist doggy kisses. But I promise, I won't shed tears when she goes to her new home on Monday. Even though she is awfully cute:
Not the best picture, but that's because she never holds still. If this freaking dog were a Catholic, her patron saint would be Our Lady of Perpetual Motion.

Ok, apparently my ADHD is worse than Henry's. Back to the story. So he's got four kittens in his jacket and he's off to see Mr. Capper about his paper route, but the kittens in his coat aren't making it easy. Especially since Mr. Capper has a large "police dog" which I'm assuming refers to a German Shepherd, and Major the dog has taken an interest in Henry's furry little passengers. Shenanigans ensue, and unsurprisingly Henry's told he's a little too young for a paper route. Oh, Mr. Capper. Clearly you're unaware that you are a marginal character in Henry's story, so your opinion really isn't going to matter all that much.

Henry heads home dejected and wondering what the hell he's going to tell his parents about four kittens (I say hell, Henry's mind probably says something along the lines of "what the dickens" or "what on earth", that is, if he's uncouth enough to even think in expletives) and he comes up with a cunning plan that kids everywhere have failed with since the dawn of time. That's right folks, it's the old "I did something I know you're going to hate, but I'm going to act like I think you're delighted" maneuver. I believe I tried it when I skipped school a few times in high school to go to a local museum. Something along the lines of "But Mom, I thought you'd be pleased that I was taking the initiative to expand my education beyond the constraints of the classroom environment!" Yea, it didn't work for me, and it's not going to work for Henry. Mr. and Mrs. Huggins bicker about whose side of the family Henry inherits his idiocy from, while Henry ruminates on how to get rid of four kittens. The parents are in favor of just giving the kittens to the pet store to sell (Who the hell knew that was ever even possible?) but Henry decides that they'll have a hand (a paw?) in his destiny, and that he'll use them as a promotion to sell The Journal, proving to Mr. Capper that he is The Best Paperboy Ever. He tries to give them away with a subscription and in a page turning shocker of a plot twist, is remarkably inept, and the kittens go to the pet store. To rub the salt in good, it turns out Mr. Huggins has become fond of one of the kittens, and he sends Henry back to the pet store to purchase it. Ahh Henry. How comically you fail. Or to put it more eloquently:

Our plucky protag is undaunted though, and continues to work towards his all important goal of becoming Klickitat Street's Own Journal Carrier and I'm not overly shocked when his opening comes through our dear pal, Scooter McCarthy. Old Scooter really needs some time to hang out down at the Y.M.C.A. (didn't make that up, I swear) so Henry agrees to fold his papers once a week. He makes himself totally annoying to the other carriers by never shutting up about his great ambition, but Scooter's a lazy ass so for several weeks, Henry keeps folding his papers. And then the day comes when Scooter needs double swim time and he asks Henry to deliver the paper for him too. I picture Scooter gazing longingly at this guy while he grabs some poor girl's pigtail as a clever cover up:

Henry succeeds finally, while also becoming the champion of the class paper drive, by advertising to all of Scooter's customers that he'll pick up and bundle their old papers and magazines. Scooter's pissed, because that means his class loses out on the big $6 prize but too bad Scoot, you spent your afternoons ogling Frankie's toned calves instead of keeping your head in the game. That's the end of Henry's tenure as annoying wannabe paper boy though, since Scooter refuses to let him help with the route any longer. That sucks, whatever. Moving on.

New kid moves into Henry's neighborhood, he's the same age as Henry, but honestly he's kind of creepy. He's all into electricity and he's building a robot named Thorvo and he spends a lot of time being pretentious about it. Kid calls himself "Murph" and everyone is a bit in awe of him, which is weird because I'd bet any money he grew up to have a personality similar to Ted Kazinsky's. Anyway, Ramona is totally fascinated by him, so she spends lots of time clanking around after him in her fabulous high heeled shoes while the other kids keep respectful distance and watch the construction of Thorvo in misplaced awe. I'm assuming Klickitat Street didn't offer much else in the way of afternoon entertainment. Ramona in her awesomeness even takes to wearing taped on glasses with the glass removed to emulate Murph, the freaky genius kid. What can I say, Ramona's quite precocious when it comes to comedic satire. Unfortunately for Henry, it turns out that Murph has one more talent up his polymathic sleeve and he's already gotten the paper route that Henry was counting on taking. Aww, sadface. Murph, you suck. Enter the real hero of the story, the girl of the hour who never fails: Ramona Quimby, the real Genius of Klickitat Street. She decides she wants to be the paper boy, so she spends most of her time following Murph around undelivering the papers he's already delivered and generally ruining his day as only Ramona can. She was the coolest little kid ever, and no one ever understood her. I'm so glad she ended up taking over the series, Ramona's way more interesting than Henry. Well, Murph can't hack it when it comes to Ramona, so he ends up quitting to spend more time in the basement with his robot and his pasty complexion, and Henry finally achieves victory, albeit only because Ramona is awesome. Our story concludes with Henry riding off into the sunset, dreams achieved, while Ramona dresses up as a robot. Henry, I like you ok. You're not a bad guy. You're just no Ramona Quimby. But at least you have the good sense to let her steal the show.

1 comment:

ames said...

Believe it or not, I don't think I ever read this! The part about the kittens made me all squeeee-y.