A Friend For Henry

This book tells the story of Henry, a young autistic boy, as he navigates the population of Classroom 6 throughout his day at school. He wants to make a friend, and the story takes the reader with him, while Mika Song’s soft and simple illustrations mirror the empathic, child-friendly tone of the book.

Compassionate, and never didactic, this is a story about the human experience, that need for connection and understanding. Though the writer, who is the mother of a child on the spectrum, has alluded to Henry’s diagnosis, his struggle could be read as that of any child who encounters obstacles on their way to forging friendships. The unpredictability of the children around him, and how difficult that is for Henry is not over-explained, and the pictorial nuance of the characters’ facial expressions complements and supports Henry’s emotional arc.

This is a respectful and hopeful book, that centres and values Henry for who he is and the reader is on his side at all times. We see and respect where he is coming from, and the calm colour palette really helps to highlight that sense of order and acceptance that he is longing for. A refreshing and rewarding book that does what it sets out to do, and well.