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Horrid Henry: Hero or Villain?

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By Nikki Gamble – Lecturer, writer and INSET provider and Helen Watts – Editor, Literacy Time PLUS

On-screen resource 2 explores the much-loved character of Horrid Henry, hero of Francesca Simon’s popular storybook series, illustrated by Tony Ross. Horrid Henry is an unusual kind of hero: he is endearing, yet naughty … and always up to something!

The Horrid Henry stories can support work on familiar stories in Year 3, and provide excellent models for the children’s own writing, with their straightforward plot lines and familiar subjects.

Horrid Henry: Hero or Villain image

Shared teaching and learning

Before reading

  • Have the children read any Horrid Henry books?
  • Who is the author? (See our Francesca Simon Author Profile)
  • Who is the illustrator? Do the children know other books by him?

Horrid Henry: Hero or villain?

  • Read the information text. Answer the questions in the first paragraph.
  • Stop when you reach the questions about books read. Look at the list on Francesca Simon’s website How many do the children know?

Previous learning

Children should be able to: give reasons why things happen or characters change; engage with books through exploring interpretations; explain their reactions to texts; sustain form in narrative, including use of person.

Horrid Henry’s Stinkbomb

  • Read the story. Did the children like it? Why?
  • Why was Peter upset at the beginning of the story?
  • Why do they think Mum didn’t punish Henry? Create a class poem, listing things parents say when they are cross, sad or keeping the peace.
  • Discuss the effect of the ‘blended’ conversations between Henry and Susan and Margaret and Peter. Predict what will happen next.
  • Did the children think the story was funny? Why?
  • What do we mean by a familiar story setting? Identify the settings in this story. What would you see, hear and feel in each place?
  • How do the illustrations supplement the text? Why might an illustrated story not need detailed setting descriptions?
  • Brainstorm words to describe the way Tony Ross draws Henry. Agree on the best three. Read his Author Profile
  • Take digital photographs around school and display. Annotate with phrases describing each setting.
  • Highlight the use of sound effects – eg, NAH NAH NE NAH NAH! Discuss how these work visually as well as aurally.

Key learning outcomes:

  • To explain/give reasons for views;
  • To read extensively favourite authors;
  • To infer characters’ feelings, deduce reasons for behaviour, empathise;
  • To explore how texts appeal/how writers use figurative/expressive language to create images;
  • To write narratives in which events are logically sequenced and conflicts resolved.

Group and independent activities

  • Set up a Horrid Henry book display. Let the children select books to read independently. Discuss their choices.
  • Ask the children about Henry.
    • Do they like him? Why? Why not?
    • What is life like from Henry’s point of view?
    • Does he feel maligned?
    • Is he always plotting and scheming?
    • What does he think of Peter? His parents? Other children?
    • Do the children like Peter? Why?
  • Use hotseating to explore Henry’s motivations and feelings at stages throughout the story.
  • As a group, discuss the story structure of Horrid Henry’s Stinkbomb. Use the activity sheet below to map the events, writing brief bullet points. Repeat with other Horrid Henry stories.

Ideas for writing

  • Rewrite the story in the first person from Henry’s or another character’s point of view.
  • Download the drawings of Henry and Peter. Let the children add details and annotations.
  • Use the stinkbomb story as a model for stories about a trick that backfires.
  • Write a stinkbomb recipe, adding alliteration – eg, Fold in four foul, festering frog’s feet.


Encourage the children to reflect on their writing. Are the characters memorable, likeable, unpleasant? Does the story capture/keep the reader’s interest?


  1. finn mackintosh
    on 8 April 2015


    0great thing coz it tells u if henry is a villsin or a hero

    5out of 5