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Children's Fiction Siblings

Caramba and Henry

illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay

Groundwood Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Aug 2011
Siblings, Imagination & Play, Cats
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2011
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 3 to 6
  • Grade: p to 1
  • Reading age: 2 to 6


Caramba’s little brother Henry is a nightmare. He won’t share anything, he squishes Caramba’s favorite caterpillars and he screams all the time. But the very worst thing about Henry is that he is learning how to fly -- much to Caramba’s dismay -- because Caramba is the only cat in the world who can’t fly.Now Caramba can’t keep up with Henry, who gets into all sorts of trouble. He tries to protect his little brother, but that only makes Henry unhappy. Finally, Caramba ties a string around Henry’s waist and lets him soar like a kite. But when Henry breaks free… Marie-Louise Gay’s beloved Caramba is back in this funny, sweet story about siblings.

About the author

MARIE-LOUISE GAY has achieved international acclaim as an author and illustrator of children’s books. She has won many awards, including two Governor General’s awards, the Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Award, the Vicky Metcalf Award and the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award. She has also been nominated for the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award and the Hans Christian Andersen Award. Marie-Louise’s very popular Stella and Sam series has been translated into more than fifteen languages and is loved by children all over the world. Her recent books include Any Questions? and Short Stories for Little Monsters. She lives in Montreal.

Marie-Louise Gay's profile page


  • Commended, Toronto Public Library First and Best Booklist

Editorial Reviews

Gay is the reigning queen of Canadian picture books for a reason, and Caramba and Henry finds her doing what she does best...

Quill and Quire

...the story is great, the full page spreads absolutely breathtaking in their scope.

Pickle Me This

...well-written...a satisfying ending.


Her playful humour and imagination take childhood's very real passions seriously, and at the same time translate them into a realm of charming lightness.

Toronto Star

...[a] fresh spin on a story about learning how to be an older sibling.

Publishers Weekly

Gay puts many delightful quirks into a highly recognizable tale of sibling rivalry, and her singular illustrations—a delicate mix of watercolor, pencil, pastels and acrylics—are unique and captivating.

Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

...a heartwarming tale of love and bravery...

School Library Journal

Librarian Reviews

Caramba and Henry

Empathy is an important human trait and one to encourage in children. The ability to think of others, and evolve from a “me” to a “we” way of thinking is a portent for a benevolent way of life. Here are four marvellous picture books where altruism, sacrifice and goodwill are prominent.

Marie-Louise Gay reintroduces the much loved Caramba in his second adventure, entitled Caramba and Henry. Poor Caramba! He never dreamt that his young brother, Henry, could be such a terror. Not only does the little one refuse to share anything with his sibling, but he screams and cries constantly. To make matters worse, Henry is learning to fly while Caramba is the only cat on the planet unable to do so. Following a series of airborne calamities, Caramba’s mother orders him to supervise his little brother’s flying excursions. “Did you notice I can’t fly?” counters Caramba. “How can I keep up with him?” Protecting the mischievous Henry proves to be a challenge, and Caramba’s patience is repeatedly tested. Finally, in a state of desperation, he ties a piece of string around Henry’s waist and allows him to soar much like a kite. Alas, the miscreant wriggles free, disappearing into the evening sky. Caramba finally discovers the escapee clutching a branch at the top of a tree, from which he encourages him to descend safely into his waiting arms. The liberated Henry hugs his rescuer and gratefully purrs his first word: “Car-r-r-amba.”

Caramba has always wanted a brother, but Henry is not quite what he had in mind. (“I thought he would be like me.”) Readers will witness Caramba’s transformation as he assumes the responsibility for overseeing the welfare of Henry. The gradual shift from exasperation to acceptance and unconditional love is beautifully expressed. Who would not be moved by Caramba’s tribute to the wayward Henry at the story’s conclusion: “Henry, you fly so well. I am very proud of you.”

Energy, action and delightful surprises are the hallmarks of Gay’s watercolour, pencil, pastel and acrylic illustrations. The bustling seaside scenes are depicted from a variety of interesting visual perspectives. Interspersed throughout the book are several two-page illustrations without text, which are evocative on their own. Gay is a master at depicting her characters’ personalities through their facial expressions, especially their eyes. It is easy to feel affection for each of them!

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Fall 2011. Volume 34 No. 4.

Caramba and Henry

Caramba always wished for a little brother, but Caramba’s little brother, Henry, is a nightmare. He won’t share, he squishes Caramba’s caterpillars and he screams all the time. But to Caramba’s dismay, Henry is learning how to fly. How is Caramba supposed to keep an eye on his little brother when Caramba is the only cat in the world who can’t fly? This sequel to Caramba is also available in French as Caramba et Henri.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. Fall, 2012.

Other titles by Marie-Louise Gay