Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar

Roald Dahl
Illustrator:   Quentin Blake 
Fiction
For ages 12 and up
Penguin, 2000   ISBN: 978-0141304700

It is a well known fact that rich people often covet more riches. I am sorry to say this was the case with Henry Sugar. He had inherited a sizeable fortune from his father but it wasn't enough. Of course Henry didn't want to have to work to make more money. Not work in an office the way other people had to, but when the opportunity presented itself to make money by stealth, by trickery, Henry jumped on it.

The whole thing came about in this way. Henry was at a house party and he was bored out of his wits. So he went to the library where he found a small handwritten book. In the book he read an account about an Indian yogi who was able to "see without his eyes." This man was also able to read playing cards from the wrong side. He could in short, see though the thin cardboard to determine what was printed on the other side. Now, if Henry could acquire this extraordinary yogi skill he would be able to cheat in every card game invented. He would be able to win in every casino in the world. He could make fortune!

So lazy Henry set about learning how to see through cards. It took some time. It took a few years in fact, and yet Henry managed it. He beat the odds and he acquired the art of being able to see through an object. And when he tried out his new skill, it worked beautifully and he knew he would be able to make enormous amounts of money. There was one big problem however. Henry discovered that the idea of making money in this way gave him no pleasure whatsoever. What on earth was he going to do?

In this tale Roald Dahl has once again created a fantastical story which is perfect in every detail, every quirk, and every nuance. Unlike most of his books, this title was written for the older reader and in it Dahl suggests that having a lot of money does not in fact give one the happiness one might expect. It is interesting to see how Henry Sugar evolves and how, in fact, he is far happier when he is giving away money, than he ever was when he was spending it on himself in the bad old days of his youth.

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