Henry Hoey Hobson is the latest ‘laugh out loud’ book from Australian Christine Bongers, author of the widely acclaimed, ‘Dust’.

Just from the blurb of Henry Hoey Hobson I could tell I was in for a fun ride.

“Twelve-year-old Henry Hoey Hobson arrives at his sixth school, Our Lady of Perpetual Succour to discover he’s the only boy in Year Seven.

Friendless, fatherless and non-Catholic, Henry is not only a Perpetual Sucker, but a bloodsucker according to his catty classmates.”

Henry’s life has always been nomadic but this latest move has brought even more uncertainty into his life. As if his new school isn’t bad enough, Henry also has the creepy new next door neighbours to contend with.

They own a coffin and have weird rituals like only leaving the house after dark and when Henry and his mum are invited there for tea, Henry’s sure it could be the last meal he ever has.

Henry survives the dinner, but he’s still struggling to keep his head above water at school. The far from angelic Angelica and the swaggering Joey Casterellaro are determined to make his life a misery.

Will his natural swimming talent be enough to help him navigate the treacherous waters of Year 7?

To complicate things there are behind-the-scenes family dramas going on in Henry’s life, and he makes some surprising discoveries about who he really is.

In Henry Hoey Hobson, Bongers handles some real issues faced by today’s kids with sensitivity and humour.

Who could not sympathise with HHH plight? After reading this book, you could also be forgiven for thinking that triple H stands for triple hilarious. There were so many places where I laughed out loud in this book and others where my heart was in my mouth, fearing what might happen to Henry next.

Apart from having a delightful sense of humour, Bongers has a way of making her characters so real that you are sure you have met them before.

Twelve-year-old Henry is very believable with his vulnerabilities and his hopes. Even his ambitious, Barbie Doll mum endears herself to readers.

The next door neighbours add interest and an intriguing sub plot to the story and I liked the fact that the headmaster Mr Paulson was far from stereotyped.

There’s plenty of action and humour in Henry Hoey Hobson to keep readers aged 9-12 hooked to the last page.

Henry Hoey Hobson is published by Woolshed Press

Christine Bongers on HENRY HOEY HOBSON

Christine Bongers, a former radio and TV journalist, is celebrating the release of her new novel, the riotously funny, fast-paced Henry Hoey Hobson, a novel aimed at upper-primary readers. For those unfamiliar with Christine’s work, her Dust was released to critical acclaim in 2009, and went on to be selected as a CBCA Notable Book for 2010. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it to the book launch – geography’s always working against me – so to make up for it, I invited Christine around to introduce her new novel, and discuss just how Henry Hoey Hobson popped into her life.

When inspiration happens…

Dark figures slipped out of the shadows. Warlocks and witches, monsters and vampires, circling the open coffin. Pale hands, fingertips dipped in black, reached in and pulled out bottles of liquid that gleamed red in the moonlight…

Halloween 2007 and Brisbane’s spec fiction writing community was partying at the home of my very favourite vampire writer, Jason Nahrung.

In the flickering flames of my memory, I was the one who didn’t fit in. Wrong outfit, wrong genre, and running late for a rival function that was more twin-set and pearls than fangs and gothic horror. I stood at the edge of the crowd, gazing with longing at the fabulous creatures cavorting around the coffin…

My mind is like a messy desk, crammed with memories, embellished by imaginings that I stack into wobbly piles that inevitably collapse and are restacked with other random musings. The bits that slip down the back I forget; the carnivorous dust bunnies can have them. The bits I hang on to are those that I instinctively feel will make a good story.

For a couple of years I held onto that image – a coffin, brimming with drinks, circled by those wondrous creatures of the night. But as a writer of realistic fiction, I wasn’t sure when, or how, I would use it.
In 2008, I made a half-hearted start on a children’s story called My Very Favourite Vampire Writer but lost interest after only eight lines. I pushed it to the back of the messy desk in my head and got on with the adult crime novel I was writing.

Then in 2009, Henry Hoey Hobson stalked into my consciousness. A likeable kid that nobody liked. How was that even possible?

His story came together in my head as a three-way collision between groups with seemingly nothing in common, and a boy who didn’t fit in.

If true character is revealed under pressure, then I wanted to crush Henry Hoey Hobson into diamond.

I made him non-Catholic, non-anything as far as he knew, dumped him into a little Catholic school, stripped him of friends, family and options, and made sure his single mum was too busy to throw him a life raft when he looked in danger of drowning in the dangerous waters of Year Seven.

I made him an outsider, and gave him just one shot at making friends – the creepy new neighbours, owners of a coffin, the only people in the street less popular than he was…

I had a ball writing this book. I not only found a use for my coffin scene, I also found a use for my very favourite vampire writer (for those in the know, he was the inspiration for the character of Caleb; his muse, the gothic and mysterious Vee is another story altogether).

Henry’s resilience in the face of adversity made me laugh… made me cry… and ended up making me proud.
CBCA National President Marj Kirkland agreed. When she launched Henry Hoey Hobson in Brisbane, she told the crowd that she’d fallen in love with a twelve-year-old boy.

I did too and I thank the high heavens that I went along to that Halloween party… Henry Hoey Hobson would never have been written but for those drinks around the coffin.

Christine Bongers

Henry Hoey Hobson is Perpetually Adolescent’s Top Pick this fortnight – grab a copy today!