My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed meeting Henny and her creator, Elizabeth Rose Stanton, at Henny’s recent book birthday. I have found so much to appreciate about this quirky little book, and it goes deeper than I would have expected.
I’ve been thinking about Henny quite a lot lately, as I let the reactions of others sink in. In case you’ve never met her, Henny is a chicken born with… arms.
The unlikely always grabs me when it comes to picture books, but this particular difference has taught me some interesting lessons along the way. I very much appreciate what she’s brought me, this funny, upbeat little bird.
Henny – born different from her siblings, different from the flock, and much beloved by her mother. Henny learns, in the course of her story, that it’s both fun and frustrating to be different. But here is what I learned about myself, and others, in sharing Henny with my community.
When I told a grownup the premise of this book I was about to “meet” on the day of her launch party, that Henny was a chicken with arms, her first response was one of dismay. That seemed a little too strange to her. I felt almost defensive of Henny, and yet, in a way, I understood, somewhere deep within. It was weird.
Then I met Henny, and fell in love. I couldn’t wait to share with my students, and when I did, I learned something more. The very youngest of them embraced Henny with open (and giggling) hearts and arms. As the student groups got older, their initial reactions began to change.
Though Henny ultimately won them over with her personality and her perseverance, she was odd enough to make some of them uncomfortable initially. The reaction was obvious enough to capture my attention, and it got me thinking.
We do somehow learn to think that differences in others are “weird.” We seem to learn it early, according to my experience with this lovely little book. It’s not much of a leap to consider our attitudes toward the students among us with differences, now, is it?
But Henny herself is the key to understanding the importance of finding the best in ourselves. She understands how lucky she is to have the support of a loving parent. She knows the importance of being open-minded, of trying new things in spite of differences, and despite challenges. She knows it’s okay to worry and to work things out, to help and to be helped both. That is a real gift in a personality, don’t you think?
Henny. She is one of my new heroes, teaching me interesting lessons and reminding me how much each and every one of us matters, no matter what we’re given to work with.
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