I love the friendly relationship between Herman the bear and Henry the raccoon in Herman’s Letter. It’s a relationship that is tested when Henry has to move away. Children often have to deal with this situation and the story shows that being sad or jealous are normal emotions and you don’t have to lose contact with friends just because you are far apart.
The Story: Herman and Henry are best friends. They do everything together and when Henry has to go away they are both devastated. Henry sends letters telling Herman about his new life but Herman doesn’t write back as he is so miserable. Herman is about to hibernate when Henry sends a letter asking him to visit soon. Herman writes back but the post office is shut for the winter so he decides to deliver the letter himself. After a long journey Herman hits his head and falls asleep. He is found by a group of animals who see his letter and call the postman. Later that day Henry receives a large, snoring parcel. When Herman finally wakes up after the winter he has lots of fun with Henry.
Herman’s Letter is beautifully illustrated and has lift the flap letters that children can open to read. We love Tom Percival’s wonderful illustrations and he captures the emotions of the characters perfectly, both through their facial expressions and their actions. The characters are very easy to empathise with. When Henry goes away Herman cries, the rain symbolises his tears and we are also sad that he is sad. Every time we read the story my daughter asks why Henry has to go away. Although he misses Herman Herman, Henry finds new friends but Herman is jealous. Herman tries to keep the connection to Henry and do all the things that Henry does but they don’t quite work out, when he barbecues it is on his own in the rain.
My daughter loves Herman’s snowy journey to visit Henry. It’s a hazardous journey involving caves, crevices and frozen waterfalls. My favourite picture shows a snoring Herman surrounded by a variety of puzzled animals, my daughter likes the polar bear with his ice cream. There is humour throughout the story, my daughter doesn’t recognise the significance of Henry reading Silent Night while Herman is snoring through Christmas but she does find Herman’s ‘sledge’ funny.
This would be a great story to use in the classroom to introduce children to the concept of penfriends and letter writing. It’s also wonderful to read aloud for enjoyment.
Age Range: 3 +
Author / Illustrator: Tom Percival