Henry is a 12 year-old, 6th grade boy with an inquisitive mind, a flair for art, and a love of cars and dogs. He appears to be an ordinary kid who lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington with his mother Cindy, father Robert, and four year-old Sheltie, Pearl.
But there’s nothing ordinary about Henry.
When he was just 10 years old, Henry wrote and illustrated a book, Dogs and Their Rides; What Would Your Dog Drive? It is a 33-page compilation of thoughtful drawings, and musings on different dog breeds and what kind of cars they might enjoy driving – an accomplishment for anyone, let alone a 10 year-old schoolboy.
What makes Henry’s story even more remarkable is that he donates all the proceeds of his book to Pets for Patriots in order to help veterans and shelter pets.
There’s something about Henry
Henry is many things, but a bored preteen is not on the list. He is working on becoming a First Class Scout with the Boy Scouts of America and is a player on the Bulldogs Youth Soccer Team. Athletic and energetic, Henry runs on his school cross country team, plays baseball and football, and is learning to play tennis. He is fascinated with ski jumping and bobsledding, too.
Science, chemistry and math are all high on Henry’s list of favorite school subjects, but he is an avid reader, budding artist and published writer-illustrator as well. At the tender age of 12, he has a few more publishing projects in the works, including one about his contributions to Project Backpack, a charity that funds educational expenses and school supplies for young children.
A philanthropist is born
A few years ago, Henry was at a local charity car wash to raise money for Project Backpack. He began an alliance with the event’s organizer, a man named Jim, who happened to be a family friend. Under Jim’s mentorship, Henry began to create fantastical art inspired by his love of cars.
Using the cars as still-life models and adding his vivid imagination, Henry created fanciful drawings and sold them for a commission. With guidance and encouragement from his parents, he donated money generated from selling his his art – which was eventually published as a calendar – to Project Backpack.
Henry raised more than $4,000.
Planes, tanks and automobiles
Although Henry’s main love is cars, he is equally fascinated by the design and development of airplanes. He thinks Howard Hughes’ “Spruce Goose” is an example of unique function and design. These days, his love of beautiful machines now extends to military tanks and exotic automobiles.
“The largest car museum in the United States – LeMay Auto Museum– was built here in Tacoma, Washington a few years ago,” says the boy’s mother, Cindy. “We have taken Henry for many visits there, as well as the wonderful Museum of Flight in Seattle.”
Henry’s favorite car is the Bugatti Veyron. At over $2,250,000, it is the epitome of form and function, and among the most beautiful, expensive and fastest automobiles available.
From idea to ink
“One day we were driving around and Henry came up with the idea of dogs and cars, and I thought it would make a great book,” says Cindy. “When he got started on it, he was very excited about it. He gets on a roll with something like that and can spend hours at it.”
Henry is something of a local celebrity in his hometown, and shares in an interview by the Bainbridge Island Review how he came up with the idea for his unique and imaginative book:
“I was just brainstorming about things and I thought, ‘What kinds of cars would dogs drive?’ That’s just because I love cars, and I also like dogs, and I just thought it was a fun idea.”
“I don’t know about a hero,” Henry says, “but I have been influenced by a few people. Like our other family friend, Raffi, who is a car designer.”
Perhaps the greatest inspiration for Henry’s art, however, comes from the rescue dogs that have been an integral part of his young life.
“I was inspired by three dogs I’ve had,” says Henry. “Chester, a mix we got as a puppy from the humane society, and two Shelties, Rudy and the dog I have now, Pearl. The book is dedicated to Rudy.”
Henry hopes to raise even more money through sales of Dogs and Their Rides and is heartened to know that his art is enhancing the lives of veterans and shelter pets. In addition to being sold at local bookstores, Dogs and Their Rides is available for sale online in softcover and as an e-book for iPad. All proceeds benefit Pets for Patriots.