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John Patrick Norman McHennessy, the boy who was always late.
January 31, 2016

Written by Deepali

Looking at the title, one may wonder what all the initials stand for… stands for a very unusual book called John Patrick Norman McHennessy, the boy who was always late . It is the story of John Patrick Norman, who faces extraordinary events on the way to school which make him late and bedraggled. His overbearing teacher refuses to believe him, thereby meting out daily punishments. How the tables turn is the crux of this wonderfully written and illustrated book by John Birmingham. I had the opportunity of reading this marvellous story in three different schools as part of my reading sessions and was I amazed with the children’s reactions.


As part of the extension activity, I gave the children hypothetical situations and the children had to make excuses for these situations. For e.g. a) what would one do if he/she lost a library book? b) What would one do if he/she wore new clothes/shoes and they were torn/lost? c) What would one do if he/she was late to school?

Some children thought about these situations and gave me run of the mill excuses but some made up stories of startling creative imagination.

For situation a, I had excuses like cat/dog/rat/mouse chewed the library book, younger sibling tore the book, the book got swept away in the sea, a thief stole it, tell mum that book given to teacher and tell teacher that mum gave the book to someone etc.

For situation b, I had excuses like siblings wore it and tore it, rats/mice ate the clothes, clothes got burnt whilst ironing, dog/cat/bird/thief/friend stole the shoes, shoes got swept away in the sea/gutter and down the drain never to be found etc.

For situation c, I had the most creative excuses ever heard; girls saw snakes on the road and were frozen on the roads for a while, parents woke them up late, mums got up late, no breakfast served, grocery shopping for mum early in the morning, accidents on road and victims had to be helped, vehicles punctured, traffic jams early in the morning and the best of the entire lot was when boy said that he saw a pretty girl and simply forgot to start walking and go to school.


Usually loyalty to the character is divided between the children in the class but in all the three schools, each and every child’s loyalty lay with John Patrick Norman and they believed that he was telling the truth every single time. Time and again, I get to unravel magic as I read a book and each time I get zapped!! We want to thank Nilima Gokhale who gifted this book to Bookworm and because of whom over a 100 children have met JPNMcH.

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