Score: 95/100 (9.5 out of 10)
Henri and the Magnificent Snort is an excellent children's book for all dog lovers—young and old! The book follows Henri, a little French bulldog with a unique, pig-like snort when he breathes. This eventually leads to Henri becoming a target of perceived bullying, making him self-conscious about what he begins to feel is a “defect” or something that makes him different from the other dogs. Despite bullying becoming a central feature of the later parts of the book, the book actually covers a range of topics from unconditional love, standing up for what's right, respecting and appreciating the differences between people, adapting to new environments, and more!
This book is also magnificently illustrated by artist Hannah Farr. Farr really captures the look and features of various types of dogs including the titular French bulldog, boxers, pit bulls, Shih Tzus, dachshunds, and more. The scenery of many of these illustrations is also beautiful, particularly the beach scenes (when in San Diego, California).
This book actually does take place in two key locations. Henri begins the book living in Manhattan, University, where his human owner attends Columbia University. Henri thrives in Manhattan, becoming accustomed to the inclement weather including rainy and snowy seasons. Rather than being scared off by the weather, Henri finds something to enjoy regardless of the weather. Perhaps the key thing that Henri experiences in New York is the diversity and how each and every dog he meets and plays with is different.
When Henri moves to San Diego, California, he soon learns that the weather is much warmer and less harsh. He also learns that the culture and diversity in the dogs are different. This culture shock and adaptation period is something that we all go through when moving homes, especially when we are younger. Henri, like a child, is a bit overwhelmed by the dramatic changes.
It is in Cal where Henri's distinct snort becomes an object of ridicule and bullying, simply because many of the dogs (mainly Russell, a Jack Russell Terrier) have never heard it in a dog before. It reminds them of the snort of a pig, and Henri becomes very self-conscious after learning this. He begins to feel that he is a pig, not like all the other dogs. Thankfully, a series of circumstances come to the rescue to give both Henri and his neighborhood dogs a new perspective. His human owner explains to Henri that she loves him unconditionally. She also explains to him that she was once viewed and treated differently due to the “egg-like” shape of her head. Henri and the other characters learn to accept and embrace their differences and unique features rather than having them be what separates them or holds them back. Many of the other dogs help to launch an anti-bullying campaign in support of their new friend.
Even Russell, the bully, has a bit of a redemption arc as Henri realizes that Russell—like all dogs—has his unique place in the world/the universe. They are all from “the stars” (special).
One last thing we appreciated is that the writing is very rhythmic yet simple. It is perfect for reading to young kids.
This is a wonderful children's book, especially for dog lovers!
Check it out on Amazon!