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by Dayle Ann Dodds & illustrated by Kyrsten Brooker

Pub Date: Aug. 16th, 2004
ISBN: 0-374-32953-2
Publisher: Melanie Kroupa/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Henry is a born inventor—literally. By the age of six, he had built an elaborate machine that filled his room and spilled into the bathroom. As years of obsessive building go by, the family is completely displaced by the enormity of Henry’s inventions. The boy’s proud parents do eventually question the method in their son’s madness: “Now, Henry. You have ‘Whipping things, whapping things, / Clapping, snapping, slapping things, / Tracking things, hacking things, / Smacking, cracking, whacking things! . . . BUT, HENRY, WHAT DOES IT DO?’ ” In the end, Henry’s invention does indeed find a purpose: a carnival is born as the phenomenal machine attracts curious onlookers and enterprising food vendors, dancers, and musicians of all shapes and sizes. The story drags on a bit, but Brooker’s comical, wonderfully multi-textured collage illustrations steal the show. Readers will be mesmerized by the madcap mélange of ramps, clocks, dice, propellers, and metal dragonflies (often photographed and pasted into the collage) that make up Henry’s amazing machine. If there’s a point, it’s probably that not everything has to have one. (Picture book. 5-8)