Henny-Penny, Heinzy, and Henrykins are but a few of the many names adoringly cooed into the sweet, newborn ears of little Henry House. Unbeknownst to this tiny baby bundle so recently transferred from the local orphanage, Henry finds himself at the heart of the Wilton College home economics program of 1946.
From the outset, Henry's cries fill the pages; urgent, needy infant wails that even the reader must ignore due to instructor Martha Gaines' stiff child-rearing techniques. As official college property, Henry falls under the starched, competent care of Martha and her regimented "practice baby" curriculum. Having successfully moved a multitude of infants and students through Wilton's no-nonsense practice program, Ms. Gaines considers herself the
maternal scale on which future mothers will weigh their worth.
But Henry House is different, and...
Beyond the Book
All it took was the unexpected image of a cute, bare-bottomed baby to set the wheels of
The Irresistible Henry House in motion. While Lisa Grunwald was researching another book, she happened upon an online exhibition detailing the history of Cornell University's home economics program which ran from 1900-1969. Originally established as a way to apply science in areas of home, farm, and family, Cornell's home ec. program implemented the use of live babies to mirror real-life domestic settings.
Incredible? Though it's too outrageous to imagine the use of a live baby as a...