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Book Review

This humorous book is not in a series but is the second in a collection of four books that feature Henry Huggins as the main character. Written by Beverly Cleary, the Henry Huggins collection is published by HarperTrophy, which is an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Henry and Ribsy is written for kids ages 8 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Henry Huggins doesn't have much to do during the summer. When Mr. Huggins announces that it's time to take the car in for an oil change, Henry and his dog, Ribsy, tag along.

A police car pulls into the station. Ribsy jumps into the open door, steals a paper bag with the policeman's lunch inside and eats it. Mr. Huggins pays the policeman for the lunch and tells Henry that he is tired of people complaining about Ribsy. He promises to take Henry salmon fishing if Henry can keep Ribsy out of trouble until the middle of September. Henry agrees.

Mr. Huggins offers to raise Henry's allowance 15 cents a week if he will begin taking out the garbage every day. Henry doesn't like the idea of being in charge of smelly garbage but is glad for the chance to make extra money. He does his job dutifully every day, but when the truck comes to pick up the garbage, Ribsy barks at the men so fiercely that they refuse to empty the cans. No one can figure out why Ribsy won't allow the garbage men near the trash, and Henry is afraid his dad won't take him fishing because Ribsy is causing so much trouble.

When Ribsy won't allow Scooter near Henry's bicycle, the boys realize that Ribsy has been guarding the trash, just like he is guarding Henry's bike. Mrs. Huggins solves the problem by taking the garbage out as she used to do. Henry is given the chore of clipping the edge of the lawn to earn the extra 15 cents a week.

Thrifty Mrs. Huggins buys a pair of electric clippers so she can cut Henry's and his father's hair. Henry worries that his mother won't do a good job, but she promises that she watched how a barber did it and knows exactly what to do.

Mrs. Huggins has trouble with the clippers. When the haircut is over, Henry is so embarrassed that he insists on wearing a sailor hat everywhere he goes. He tries to divert his friends' attention from his hat by talking about ways to pull out his two loose teeth. But the boys snatch the hat off his head when he's not looking and make fun of him. The joke is on Scooter and Robert, though, when their mothers buy electric clippers and give them awful haircuts, too. After much discussion about the best way to get rid of his loose teeth, Henry decides to let Ribsy do the pulling. He ties a string to them and lets Ribsy run until the teeth land on the grass.

Henry goes to Beezus and Ramona's house to play checkers, but the game is ruined when Ribsy eats Ramona's ice cream cone. To punish Ribsy, Ramona steals his bone and locks it in her lunch box. As the three friends walk to the store to buy Ramona another ice cream cone, she overhears Henry say the letters PTA. Thinking that he is spelling the name of a snack, Ramona insists that she wants it. Although Beezus explains that PTA is just a school meeting for parents, Ramona has a tantrum and climbs up the jungle gym, insisting she won't come down until she gets some PTA. Henry and Beezus decide to buy a bag of potato chips and tell Ramona that it's PTA and that she can have some if she comes down. But Ribsy knows that Ramona has his bone and won't stop barking at her. When the PTA meeting is over at the school, the parents gather on the playground, worried about Ramona. Miss Mullen, the school principal, saves the day by coaching Ramona off the jungle gym.

Because Henry has kept Ribsy out of trouble, he is allowed to go fishing with his father and Mr. Grumbie. Mr. Huggins agrees to let Ribsy join them. Everyone is excited when Mr. Grumbie gets a bite and nearly lands a big salmon, but at the last minute the fish flips out of the boat. As the fish swims away, Ribsy jumps in after it. A fisherman in a large motorboat manages to catch Ribsy and bring him back. Mr. Huggins suggests that Henry and Ribsy dry out in the boathouse while he and Mr. Grumbie continue fishing. Henry is disappointed, but the day ends on a high note when Ribsy notices a big salmon in a shallow stream and Henry is able to catch it with his bare hands.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Mr. and Mrs. Huggins parent Henry through the mischief that he and his dog get into with kindness and a sense of humor. Using a creative way to help Henry learn to discipline his dog, Henry's father promises Henry a father-son fishing trip if Henry can keep Ribsy out of trouble. Miss Mullins, the school principal, is patient and understanding with the students. When she sees that Ribsy has chased Ramona up the jungle gym, she doesn't call the pound, as Henry fears, but assures him that she understands how this kind of thing can happen because she has three dogs of her own.





Discussion Topics

If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:

  • Why does Henry want to go with his dad to get the oil changed?
  • Do you enjoy tagging along with us when we do errands?
  • What was your favorite errand with us?

  • What are some of the things Ribsy does that make Mr. Huggins angry?

  • How is part of what Ribsy does Henry's fault?
  • What would you do to keep a dog like Ribsy from getting into trouble?

  • Why does Mr. Huggins want Henry to take out the trash every day?

  • What chores do you do for us?
  • Why are some chores paid and other chores done for free?

  • Why do Henry, Scooter and Robert wear sailor hats?

  • Tell about a haircut you've had that you didn't like.
  • What did you do to keep from being teased?

  • How does Henry remove his loose teeth?

  • How did you lose your first tooth?
  • Have you ever had a tooth pulled?
  • Would Henry's way of pulling teeth work?

  • Why does Ramona think the PTA is something to eat?

  • When have others spelled out a word to keep you from knowing what they were talking about?
  • How did it make you feel?

  • How does Henry catch a salmon?

  • Do you like to fish?
  • What is your best fishing memory?

Additional Comments/Notes

Book reviews cover the content, themes and world-views of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

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Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

8 to 12




Beverly Cleary






Record Label



HarperTrophy, which is an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers


On Video

Year Published




We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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