Henry Hodges Needs a Friend was written by Andy Andrews and illustrated by Colleen Madden. It was published by Tommy Nelson in 2015.

In good rhyme Andy Andrews tells the story of a lonely little boy. Henry lives at the end of the street. He’s glad his house is there. He likes to swing on his tire swing but not much else. Henry is bored and very lonely. His mother tells him that he needs a friend and then says “so a friend’s what you’ll get.”

His parents decide to help by finding him a pet. Henry’s wild daydreams about what this pet will be are great fun. They range from a singing turtle to a porcupine with curls softer than silk to a goldfish with antlers.

At the animal shelter Henry finds the loneliest pup. The little dog jumps into Henry’s lap. Henry has found a friend and he names him Hap, short for happy. God knew all along what Henry needed. Children will relate to the theme of needing a friend. They will be led to think about the many times God uses others to help us solve our problems.

Colleen Madden’s illustrations are detailed in the foreground down to the frown and freckles on Henry’s sad face. She has chosen a more free-flowing style for the background that follows along with the story.

An adult may read this book to a young child, but children who are beginning to read independently may read the story for themselves. An interesting visual detail is the print layout. Certain words are printed in colors other than black. This highlights those words and signals the reader to pay attention to them. It is a subtle way to increase a child’s vocabulary and keep his focus.

When you read this book, don’t miss the poem on the inside flap.

Unique, creative and heart-felt are words to describe this book destined to become a treasured favorite.

Carol Green, a graduate of Northwestern, is the mother of three adult children. Her five grandchildren affectionately call her “Grams cracker.” She is the published author of many poems for both adults and children; three coloring books: God Gave Me Five, ABC Fun Book, and Color God’s World Bright; and the picture book: My Mom Loves Me.