Rereading: HENRY REED’S BIG SHOW by Keith Robertson

The fourth book in the Henry Reed series was first published in 1970. Henry is making his third visit to Grover’s Corner, New Jersey for the summer, staying with his aunt and uncle and renewing his friendship with business partner Midge Glass. Henry and Midge are again looking for a way to make money, and Henry suggests they put on some kind of show outside the barn and on the property he owns. Before that can be worked out, the star character arrives, a smart and eccentric horse named Galileo. He’s been gifted to Midge, who has become horse-crazed, and Henry agrees to let her keep the horse on his property. They build a corral fence to contain him and set up a stall at the back of the barn. Galileo soon proves to be as much an inventor as his namesake. He keeps inventing ways to get out of the fence, and much time is spent catching him. Galileo also proves to be fun to ride for Midge, and when Henry buys an old carriage at an auction, he’s also good at pulling it. Before long, the three of them are in a protest parade in Princeton where Galileo gets lots of attention.

When a struggling rock band’s car and caravan trailer breaks down in front of Henry’s barn and Henry agrees to let them stay in his yard while the car is fixed, the band agrees to perform as thanks, and their loud music soon draws a crowd. It’s Henry’s first big show, though not one he planned. Artist Robert McCloskey’s funny and wonderful art is a large part of the appeal of these books, and I can’t resist showing his visualization of the band. It’s a spread, but here it is in two parts to show it better.

As you can see, a state trooper has been called to the scene by irate neighbors, but things are worked out to everyone’s satisfaction.

Henry tries to put on a play, but that doesn’t go well, and then he has a better idea: a rodeo. Lots of kids in the area have horses, and everyone loves the idea, except some of their parents. The rodeo is fun and funny, like this entire book, and cheerful chaos continues to follow Henry and Midge through it. Keith Robertson knew horses well, he wrote a number of books in which kids and horses star, and this is one of the best.

Recommended.

My reviews of the previous books:

Henry Reed, Inc.

Henry Reed’s Journey

Henry Reed’s Babysitting Service

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