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Baloney (Henry P.) Paperback – September 8, 2005

4.6 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Henry P. Baloney needs to come up with a very good, very believable excuse for being late to szkola yet again--or he's in big trouble with his teacher Miss Bugscuffle. But never fear! Henry has a doozy of a story. You see, it all started when he misplaced his trusty yellow no. zz zimulis. One thing led to another, and before he knew it, he was on a razzo blasting off into space, where he eventually landed on the planet Astrosus. All went well there, as the intrepid explorer entertained the Astro guys with his funny piksas--until they decided Henry and his piksas would be entertaining to eat. Things go on in this vein until somehow, miraculously, Henry P. Baloney ends up back in his classroom, a mere seven minutes late--but still one writing utensil short!

Trust the ultracreative author/illustrator pair, Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith (The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!, the Time Warp Trio series, and more), to mastermind a plot this bizarre and yet somehow familiar to any school kid. Sure, Henry P. Baloney is a cute, saucer-eyed, green alien, but he has problems just like you and me--such as the threat of Permanent Lifelong Detention. Remarkably, as Scieszka reports in his afterword, when he received and decoded the transmission of this story (directly from deep space, mind you), it was written in a combination of many Earth languages, including Finnish, Swahili, Latvian, Esperanto, and Inuktitut (decoder included). Go figure.

Caldecott Honor artist Lane Smith must have spent a lot of time in detention, doodling away the hours. His weird, wild, wonderful pictures tell at least half the story, illustrating for readers' enlightenment just what a zimulis ("pencil" in Latvian) or speelplaats (Dutch for "playground") looks like. Fans of this ingenious pair will not be disappointed and may even make a twrf (Welsh for "noise") of joy! (Ages 5 to 9) --Emilie Coulter --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

This book's gleaming silver cover and little green namesake signal intergalactic adventure. Fortunately, Scieszka and Smith (Squids Will Be Squids) prefer innovation to UFO clich‚s, and this tale of an alien truant is also a language game. Lime-colored, freckled Henry P. Baloney is late for class and faces "Permanent Lifelong Detention" from Miss Bugscuffle. He concocts an excuse that spools across the pages in emphatic, italicized capital letters. " `I would have been exactly on time,' said Henry. `But... I misplaced my trusty zimulis. Then I... um... found it on my deski.' " Smith's airbrush-speckled collages zoom from a closeup of a pencil to Henry leaning over a kidney-shaped desk; thus, "zimulis" and "deski" enter the vocabulary. Henry goes on to describe being crowned "kuningas" of another planet and almost getting shot with a "blassa." A "Decoder" at the back of the book reveals that all 20 unfamiliar terms are either non-English (the Dutch "speelplaats" means "playground") or wordplay ("flying saucer" becomes "sighing flosser"). Contextual cues allow readers with no prior knowledge of Italian, Latvian or Polish to comprehend Henry P.'s hyperboles: "I jammed the razzo controls with my zimulis so I could land behind szkola and still be on time," says Henry, and Smith pictures a rocket console, a variety of dials and Henry's pencil. Amateur linguists will have a field day exploring this non-nonsense. All ages.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 2 - 5 years
  • Lexile Measure: AD400L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin Books; Reprint edition (September 8, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142404306
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142404300
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,155 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author


Jon Scieszka was born in Flint, Michigan on September 8th, 1954. He grew up with five brothers, has the same birthday as Peter Sellers and the Virgin Mary, and a sneaking suspicion that the characters in his Dick and Jane reader were not of this world. Those plain facts, plus his elementary school principal dad, Louis, his registered nurse mom, Shirley (who once took Jon's Cub Scout den on a field trip to the prenatal ward), Mad Magazine, four years of pre-med undergrad, "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show", an M.F.A. in Fiction from Columbia University, Robert Benchley, five years of painting apartments in New York City, his lovely wife Jeri Hansen who introduced him to Molly Leach and Lane Smith, Green Eggs and Ham, his teenage daughter Casey and almost teenage son Jake, ten years of teaching a little bit of everything from first grade to eighth grade, and the last twenty years of living in Brooklyn...are just some of Jon's answers to the questions, "Where do you get your ideas?" and/or "How did you become a writer?" I don't know, just because, none of your beeswax, and flapdoodle poppycock and balderdash are some more of Jon's answers to questions you can imagine on your own. Jon met up with Lane Smith around 1986 or so, and nothing has been the same since. Their first book, the wiseguy fairy tale retelling, The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! was initially rejected by most publishers as "too weird" and "too sophisticated". Published by Viking in 1989, The True Story has now sold over a million copies, been translated into ten languages, and been called a "classic picture book for all ages". Jon and Lane's The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales (1992) took the world of the picture book a few steps further. Goofing with the conventions of fairy tales and even being a book, The Stinky Cheese Man became a household word, sold another mess of copies in multiple languages, offended a few purists, and still managed to win a Caldecott Honor medal. Math Curse (1995) further stretched the notion of what subjects make good picture books, selling more books faster than either 3 Little Pigs or Stinky Cheese, and winning a whole slew of awards --all for a book full of mathematics.More recently, Jon and Lane have resurrected fables (in the smart, funny, and a little bit wicked way Aesop would have wanted them) in their latest collaboration, Squids Will Be Squids (1998). No telling where they might take the picture book next. Someone once wrote, "Jon Scieszka has forever changed the face of children's literature." And while there is still some confusion over exactly who that someone was, and whether children's literature does, in fact, have a face, most would agree-from The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! to Squids Will Be Squids, since Scieszka put pen to paper, children's literature sure has been...different.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The best children's books entrance you with their images, the story and the images build on one another, and the story adds dimensions that are unanticipated and interesting. This book almost meets those tests, and adds to your language skills in the process.
"Last Tuesday morning, at 8:37 a.m., Henry P. Baloney was late once too often." "That's it," said Miss Bugscuffle. "Permanent Lifelong Detention . . . unless you have one very good and very believable excuse."
Then begins the wildest tale tale you've ever heard. It all starts when a zimulis is misplaced. It is on a deski in a torakku on the way to szkola, and suddenly the torakku goes past! Henry grabbed his zimulis and jumped out, right onto a razzo launch pad. He opened the pordo and landed on the next razzo while it was blasting off.
Then things got really strange!
If you could see the illustrations, you would be able to make more of this story. You would probably guess that a zimulis is a pencil and that a torakku is a truck. Decoding these strange words will definitely keep your mind occupied. Just when you think you have them figured out, they switch again. It turns out that the strange words are in Finnish, Latin, Ugbaric, Maltese, Swahili, French, Melanesian Pidgen, Esperanto, Italian, Spoonerisms, Dutch, Japanese, Welsh, German, Inuktitut, Latvian, and transpositions. There is an afterword that tips you off, and a decoder to help you decipher the words. But you will have much more fun trying it on your own, learning from the context of the surrounding words and the illustrations.
So obviously, the text and the illustrations build on one another. Because you aren't always sure what the words mean, the story is unexpected.
Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Jon S. and Lane S. are the best children (adult?) authors/illustrators out there. As with their other books, this one has great pictures, and a great premise, BUT the story is not tight, and seems to be more about the pictures this time and less about the story. Again, great illustrations, but I actually left this book at the bookstore as the story didn't capture me.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read this book before I presented it to my grade three class. I found myself howling with laughter at the excuses offered by Henry P. As I predicted, my students all enjoyed and giggled when I read it to them.

After I read it, I placed in the "sharing" center for them to borrow and read. They all clamored to get it. Then they began negotiating to see who would get it next.I saw them reading and going over those very special words AND making sense of them. What better recommendation is that??!!
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Format: Hardcover
If you haven't ready Scieszka (gesundheit) and Smith's other books, that's fine. You're just missing out on a whole lot of good humor. More on that later...
"Dilectare ut Docere" - the Latin phrase is a perfect description of this book. It means, roughly, "Delight them in order to teach them." If you want to unclog your child's television-clogged synapses, get this book. An alien lost his WHAT?
If you have a sense of humor and don't have "Squids will be Squids" and "The Stinky Cheese Man" then you're missing out. And so are your kids. "Math Curse" is good too...(my wife the math teacher makes me say that).
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Format: Hardcover
I was saddened when I did not like Baloney, Henry P. I have come to expect so much from John Scieszka and Lane Smith. I hoped that a book about an alien student trying to explain what happened to his homework (especially when the story begins with the alien child being abducted by other aliens) would be a great platform to showcase the talents of this team. It sadly has not proved so.
Baloney, Henry P. suffers from both poor illustrations and a lack of humor. The plot line is forced rather than well laid out. These are aberrations in the work of Scieszka/Smith.
In the interests of not judging others too harshly (lest I, as a result, am left without excuse) I must point out that the sheer invention and novelty of this book makes it worth reading at least once. The basis for my extremely low rating is that this book is not even close to being up to par with the other work of Scieszka and Smith. It isn't even in the same league as works like The Stinky Cheese Man and The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs.
Unless you are a big fan of Scieszka and Smith, I recommend that you look somewhere else (the aforementioned books or Math Curse). Baloney, Henry P. is not their best.
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Format: Hardcover
This book tells about a little boy who is late for school. When the teacher asks him for his excuse, the boy comes up with a whopper of a tale full of some very strange words. Some of the words are almost familiar, while others sound like they are from outer space. That is, if you don't know Latvian, Finnish, or Inuqtitut, since each of the words is a real world from some language of the world. Despite the strangeness of the words, the story is perfectly understandable due to the excellent illustrations. The book includes a glossary at the back, explaining the source and meaning of each of the strange words. The book is not scary at all, and it is good fun, especially for boys. It contains about 500 words.
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