Just Henry by Michelle Magorian

Just Henry

Written by Michelle Magorian

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The Lovereading4Kids comment

Winner of the 2008 Costa Children’s Book Award - From the award winning author of Goodnight Mister Tom comes a new page turning tale. Warmhearted and full of period detail, Just Henry is a wonderful story of growing up and seizing life’s opportunities. It’s post war Britain and life should be getting better for all – and some things are. But Henry finds an increasing number of unanswered questions about his life and gradually, as he learns the answers, he finds his life is rather different from how it had seemed. As ever, Michelle Magorian gets to the emotional heart of issues.

Be sure to check out A Spoonful of Jam, A Little Love Song, Cuckoo In The Nest by the same author.

STOP PRESS: JUST HENRY TO HIT THE TV SCREENS AT CHRISTMAS 2011 ON ITV: Rising star, Josh Bolt (Nowhere Boy, The Be All and End All), will lead a prestigious cast including: Elaine Cassidy (Harper's Island, A Room with a View, Felicia's Journey), Dean Andrews (Marchlands, Ashes to Ashes), Stephen Campbell Moore (Season of the Witch, Thorne, Ben Hur), Barbara Flynn (Miss Potter, Cracker, Cranford), and BAFTA nominated actress Shelia Hancock (New Tricks, Bedtime, Moving On), in ITV1's new drama Just Henry.

Adapted by Michael Chaplin (creator of Grafters and Monarch of the Glen), from Michelle Magorian's critically acclaimed novel, Just Henry tells a engaging story about one boy's discovery that will alter his family life forever. Produced by Paul Frift (Instinct, Crooked House, Room at the Top) and directed by David Moore (Monroe, Merlin, Sweeney Todd) for ITV Studios, Just Henry will be filmed on location in Leeds throughout August and will be scheduled this Christmas on ITV1.

Director of Drama Commissioning Laura Mackie and Sally Haynes, Controller of Drama Commissioning, have commissioned the 1 x 90 minute film, which is executive produced by Creative Director Kate Bartlett and Myar Craig-Brown - Drama ITV Studios. Laura says, "Just Henry is a really heart-warming script which follows the journey of one boy's discovery that will change his life, family and friends forever. It's rich with detail from the post war era and has a very sympathetic and engaging young character at its heart. The film will be a wonderful treat for the Christmas schedule."


Just Henry by Michelle Magorian

This is a gripping mystery-thriller and an insightful snapshot of time, set in post-war Britain. It's 1949 and life is bleak for Henry. He misses his father who died a war hero, and he escapes from his annoying stepfather and stepsister whenever he can and goes to the cinema - his passion.One day in the cinema queue he meets Mrs Beaumont who also loves films, and lends Henry a camera for his school project. Henry is disgusted that he's been put in a group with Jeffries, the son of a man who went AWOL, and Pip, who was born illegitimate; but he's about to learn that tolerance and friendship are more important than social stigmas.Henry will need his new friends when he processes the film and makes an alarming discovery.Like a bomb waiting to explode, Henry's world is about to unravel.


What the Costa judges said:

'This is a master storyteller at work with the sort of descriptive writing that is a joy to read. Just Henry is a soaring, uplifting warm bath of a book – a wonderful roller-coaster of a story which we all absolutely loved.'

Michelle Magorian on being shortlisted for the Costa Children’s Book Award:

I’d like to say that I was delighted when I first heard that I was on the Costa shortlist but to be honest I couldn’t take it in. In fact I felt somewhat detached. After all, what had this to do with the characters I had been living with privately for so long? Having finished Just Henry, all I hoped for was that my readers would be pulled into their story. That was more than enough for me. Even after I had heard the shortlist announced on the radio it still didn’t feel quite real and the following day I double-checked the newspapers to confirm it. Now that it has sunk in I feel incredibly happy. To have one’s story selected from a swathe of wonderful books means that not only has my story been enjoyed but more people will now pick up the book and get to know the characters that I have become so fond of these past few years. The Costa shortlist will also bring other books to people’s attention too and they’ll be tempted to read them. I’ve already bought two copies and ordered another!

Cally Poplak, Michelle's Editor and a Director of Egmont Press:

It’s been ten years since Michelle’s last book and hasn’t it been worth the wait! Just Henry is a novel that challenges us to hold the mirror up to our own prejudices; a novel – written long before the credit crunch – that reminds us of that old fashioned value, resourcefulness; but, above all, it’s a meaty, enthralling, Sunday afternoon novel to read with the whole family. It’s a treat to have a new book by Michelle – and one that so brilliantly articulates the feelings of children as they navigate their way through childhood. I am thrilled to see it on the Costa shortlist.

About the Author

Michelle Magorian

Michelle Magorian is undoubtedly one of the pre-eminent children’s writers of historical family drama and of books set around the Second World War. She may not be a household name but that’s purely because she doesn’t write as frequently as those more obvious bestselling novelists. Just Henry is her seventh novel. Unlike some authors Magorian writes when the time is right having first undertaken considerable research, followed by a lot of thinking time before actually putting pen to paper and then there’s always the very important rewrites to polish the story. Magorian loves the research and the writing in equal measure but particularly loves writing dialogue.

Interestingly, Magorian’s first love when she was younger was to be an actress but she also loved writing and day dreaming – the perfect combination for a successful novelist.
Here at Lovereading4kids we urge parents and children to try out the wonderful writing, experience the roller-coaster of emotions you’ll get from reading a Michelle Magorian novel. We’re confident you’ll be swept up into a time and place that should never be forgotten.

Click here to read a Q&A with the author from top children's publisher Egmont.

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Book Info


720 pages
Interest Age: From 9


Michelle Magorian
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Egmont Childrens Books

Publication date

5th May 2008




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