Francesca Simon is to bring the Horrid Henry series to a close, 21 years after the mischievous Henry first appeared in print.
Horrid Henry’s Cannibal Curse (Orion Children’s Books, 16th July, £4.99) will be the last title in the series. It will be illustrated by Tony Ross and comprises four stories—including one in which Henry conjures a cannibal’s curse to deal with his enemies.
Simon said she was “sad” to leave Henry behind, but added that it was the right time to say goodbye. “I love the stories in the final book, and it’s not as if the books will vanish from bookshelves because I’m not adding to the collection,” she said. “Horrid Henry has been a huge part of my life for more than 20 years, and I’ve loved being able to write about the imp inside us all. He means the world to me and always will.” Simon said that Henry will not reform his troublesome ways in the final book, but she added that the final title would contain a “fun surprise”.
Orion will support the release of the book with a year-long programme of activities on www.horridhenry.co.uk, a series of brand partnerships (yet to be announced) and appearances at literary festivals. It will also provide p.o.s. and authorless event kits for bookshops.
Henry first appeared in Horrid Henry in 1994, and soon became a huge publishing success. However, the Horrid Henry brand has waned a little in the past few years: Horrid Henry Annual 2015 sold 48,387 units through Nielsen BookScan, an 8% decline on the 2014 annual, and a 23% drop on 2012’s; and Horrid Henry’s Krazy Ketchup (OCB, June 2014) sold 32,223 units in 2014, a drop of 34% on sales of the previous year’s Horrid Henry’s Nightmare, which sold 48,878 units in 2013. Simon’s value through the TCM in 2014 (£1.3m) was 41% down on her 2012 value (£2.2m), following the release of “Horrid Henry: The Movie” in 2011.
Simon is currently working on The Monstrous Child, the third book in a series acquired by Faber and Profile in 2013, and has plenty of ideas to work on too. “I have ideas for an opera for children and a play, and I’m excited about trying out new writing forms,” she said.