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Book Review

This book has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the fourth book in a collection of four books that feature Henry Huggins as the main character.

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 likes having a paper route, but sometimes he runs out of interesting things to do before the papers need to be delivered. One day he notices a U-Haul trailer parked in the driveway of the Grumbies' house next door and decides to investigate. When Mr. Grumbie says he's planning to take an old bathtub to the dump, Henry and his dog Ribsy tag along. For extra fun, they ride inside the bathtub, where Henry waves to his friends as they drive down the street.

When they pass a newspaper truck, Henry is reminded of his paper route. Mr. Grumbie drops Henry off, but he's too far away to make it home in time for his deliveries. Henry calls his mother, who agrees to take care of Henry's paper route until he gets home. That night, Mr. Huggins reminds Henry that the paper route is his, not his mother's, and Henry apologizes, promising to be more responsible.

Henry decides to collect pieces of lumber to build a doghouse for Ribsy. When a neighbor tears down his old garage, there is enough lumber for Henry and his friends to build a clubhouse, too. A boy who has a paper route announces that he has sold a new subscription, inspiring Henry to get a new customer, too. One of the houses on Henry's route has just been sold, and he decides to talk to the new owner about buying a subscription. But when he approaches the house, Ribsy gets into a dogfight with Ranger, the Dalmatian owned by the new family. A neighbor squirts the dogs with a garden hose to end the fight, and Henry leaves without talking to the new owner. Each time Henry approaches the house, Ranger chases him away. Henry is afraid he will never be able to sell a new subscription.

On Halloween, Henry drapes a blanket around his shoulders like an Indian chief. Ribsy accompanies him, wearing a rubber wolf mask over his face. Henry hopes they will meet up with Ranger so that Ribsy can scare him off. Mrs. Morgan tells the trick-or-treaters that she doesn't have any candy to give them but offers them an old stuffed owl from the garage. The boys think it will make a great addition to their clubhouse. After learning that the owner of the new house is giving away candy apples, Henry decides that he and Ribsy will be brave and try to visit her once again. He hopes that Ribsy's mask and the stuffed owl will scare Ranger. Sure enough, when Ranger sees the owl, he whimpers and crawls under a chair.

The homeowner introduces herself as Mrs. Peabody and recognizes Henry from the day their dogs got into a fight. When Mrs. Peabody says that she's had lots of pets, Henry suggests that she might like to subscribe to the newspaper because it features a pet column. Mrs. Peabody tells Henry that she has been waiting for him to sell her one. As he leaves, she calls Henry "Harry" by mistake, but Henry doesn't correct her because she has been so nice.

The next day, Henry must collect money from the subscribers on his paper route. Mrs. Peabody gives Henry some cookies along with her money and calls him "Harry" as she says goodbye. He has to go to the Kellys' house several times because Mrs. Kelly is busy taking care of her children and doesn't have any money. While Henry is waiting for Mrs. Kelly to find her purse, Ramona Quimby, who is playing with the Kelly kids, opens the washing machine during the spin cycle, and everyone is soaked with water. As Henry is walking home, Mrs. Peabody notices that his clothes are all wet and calls him "Harry" again. Henry wishes he could think of a way to tell her his real name.

Henry's friend Beezus offers to make curtains for the clubhouse, but the boys have decided no girls are allowed. Murph teaches the guys a nonsense rhyme that will serve as the password to enter the clubhouse. One day after school, they notice that someone has rolled up a piece of paper like a cigarette and has taped it to the owl's beak. The next day the owl is wearing a doll bonnet and bearing a sign that says, "Down With Boys!" The boys suspect that Beezus has snuck into their clubhouse. They buy a padlock for the clubhouse door, hiding the keys where no one will find them.

One afternoon while Henry is in the clubhouse, Ramona stops by. Henry tells her to go home, but she refuses. The next thing Henry knows, the clubhouse door slams and the padlock clicks shut. Henry realizes that Ramona has locked him inside. After much negotiating, Henry tells Ramona where the key to the padlock is, but she can't get it to turn. Finally Beezus arrives and agrees to let Henry out if he teaches her the secret rhyme, which he does.

Soon all the kids know the rhyme, which infuriates Henry. He blames Ramona and wants to find a way to make her stop pestering him. While folding newspapers for his route, he spots an advice column featuring letters written by people with problems. Henry knows that Ramona likes to watch a television program called "Sheriff Bud" because the program gets lots of letters from kids with birthdays, and they announce their names. Henry decides to write a letter to Sheriff Bud asking him to tell Ramona to stop being a pest.

For several days after school, Henry stops at the Quimby house to play checkers with Beezus and watch "Sheriff Bud" on television, in case he reads the letter. They are all stunned when, one day, he does and tells Ramona to stop pestering Henry on his paper route. Ramona promises to be good and considers Henry her hero because he is Sheriff Bud's friend.

To Henry's surprise, Ramona is able to get Mrs. Peabody to stop calling Henry the wrong name. One snowy day, Henry asks Beezus to get his sled so he can pull the papers instead of carrying them. Beezus returns with Ramona in tow, and when she overhears Mrs. Peabody greet "Harry," she is quick to correct her. The next day, a letter written by Mrs. Peabody appears in the newspaper complimenting Henry on his prompt newspaper delivery and the way he pulled a tired little girl home through the snow on a sled. Mr. and Mrs. Huggins are proud of their son, and Henry decides that Ramona isn't such a pest after all.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Mr. and Mrs. Huggins are the authority figures in the home. Henry is the kind of boy whose curiosity sometimes gets him into trouble, but his parents understand that he means well. When he comes to them with a problem, such as when Ramona pesters him on his paper route, his parents offer good advice. Henry has waited a long time to hear his father say that he is proud of him, and when a customer writes to the newspaper complimenting Henry's good job as a delivery boy, Mr. Huggins says that he will send a copy of the paper to all of his relatives because he is so impressed with Henry's hard work. Though a bit embarrassed, Henry is pleased by his father's praise.





Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Halloween: The neighborhood kids dress up for Halloween and go trick-or-treating.

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

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

8 to 12




Beverly Cleary






Record Label



HarperTrophy, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers


On Video

Year Published





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