It's Dad's birthday but Henry doesn't have enough money for a present and he's too old to give Dad one of his own drawings. Mum's suggestion of one whole squabble-free day doesn’t appeal, so she lends him enough money to buy a 'World's Greatest Dad' pen. Mum's present to Dad is a wonderful, expensive-looking watch.
It's so wonderful Henry has to try it on while Dad's in the shower. He's halfway to school before he realises the watch is still on his arm. He takes it to school, shows it to Simon then loses it. Who can he blame?
(from Brat – books for readers and teachers in Booknotes, Summer 2003)
"I'm going to ring Simon’s Mum and ask if they can take you to soccer this morning," Mum says, "then I can have a good look for Dad's watch."
I'm ready super early and hanging round the front door waiting to leap into Simon's mum's car as soon as she pulls up. That way, there's no chance of my mum coming out and having another talk to her.
Simon's trying to tell me all about this programme that was on TV last night, but I'm not really listening.
As soon as we get to school I jump out of the car, tear up the path and start hunting all round the edge of the field, trying to remember where we left all our stuff the day before.
No luck. A plastic bag with an apple in it, someone else's sweatshirt, but no watch.
"Come on, Henry," yells Mr Morrison, our coach. "We play in the middle of the field, remember?"
I don't enjoy the game much. Every time I start running after the ball, I keep imagining the crunch of a shattered watch underfoot. At the end of the match we’re 3-2 down and all of a sudden I find myself with only the goalkeeper between me and the goal.
"Come on, Henry! You can do it! Concentrate!" I hear Mr Morrison shout.
I know I can do it too. I can easily get the ball past their goalie. I line up - I'm ready to let fly with a great kick - and then, out of the corner of one eye, I see something glinting in the grass. My great kick slides away sideways and doesn't go anywhere near the goal. The whistle sounds for full time.
"Henry!" howls Mr Morrison.
The something glinting in the grass turns out to be a piece of scrunched-up tinfoil, probably from someone's lunch box.
The story behind the book
Are you like Henry? Do you lose things?
In our family, some people are always losing things. Keys, wallets, library books and homework mysteriously disappear. One of our children really did lose a watch. She carefully posted it down the hole in the base of a sun umbrella, and we didn't find it until the next summer. By then, of course, it wasn't working any more.
• The lost watch was shortlisted for the Bilby awards (Bilby is an acronym that stands for Books I Love Best Yearly.) Make up a list of your favourite books. See if you can come up with a catchy acronym of your own.
• Henry has no money to buy a birthday present for his dad. He doesn't think much of his mum's suggestion of one squabble-free day. What birthday presents can you think of that cost little or no money?
NZ herald, 9 August 2003
"A funny, easy to read story about a small boy's guilt that would be a good read-aloud."
Too good to miss: New Zealand children's books 2004-2005