Fiction for Young Adults

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Diedericks-Hugo, Carina

Koning Henry

King Henry

Cape Town, South Africa: Tafelberg-Uitgewers, 2003. 128 p. ISBN 0-624-04158-1. Ages 12-15.

Language: Afrikaans

Publisher: Tafelberg

Henry, a second-year high school student in Cape Town, is under pressure from his father, who wants him to excel in sports, particularly rugby, for which he has little talent and inclination. His father is always comparing him with his older brother to his disadvantage. However, Henry (nicknamed “King Henry”) is a computer whiz-kid, and appreciated as such by the teacher in charge of the computing centre. A new girl, Aisha, with an interest in computers, joins the school and applies to the teacher to become a computer assistant.

Not being good at sports and gregarious by nature, Henry spends much time visiting chat rooms on the Internet. In this way he befriends an apparently older man, who seems to be the only person who really understands him. What Henry writes to his correspondent about himself is not the truth, but he does not realise that the man also does not tell the truth about himself. Henry agrees to meet the man at a pizza parlour after a rugby game. Luckily, Aisha sees Henry go off with the man, whom she views with suspicion, and tells Henry’s elder brother. The man takes Henry to a porn movie house and makes sexual overtures. Henry is shocked, and he flees in a daze. Following Aisha’s tip, his brother rescues him and takes him home.

All ends well when Henry testifies to the police, who had been trying to catch this paedophile. Henry receives counselling and decides to tell his story to the whole school as a warning to other susceptible pupils. At the school assembly it is also announced that Henry and Aisha had performed very well in a countrywide computer olympiad in which they had participated.

The story is well written and true to life. Not only will it entertain young adults, but it will also inform parents, in a sympathetic manner, of the dangers their children face. The book received the 2005 Afrikaans Language and Cultural Association (ATKV) award for youth literature, an award adjudicated by adults as well as young readers.


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