Tiny, spiny mammal Henley the Hedgehog is making a name for himself in libraries and classrooms around the globe.
Hailing from Toronto, Henley is the pet of gradeschool teacher Sharon Douris. A teacher for more than two decades, Douris always wanted to write a book. Now, Henley entertains and educates children through his books, classroom visits, and informal interviews at his vacation home at the base of an oak tree.
The approximately 30-page, three-book series chronicles the fictional tale of real-life Henley the Hedgehog. Henley poses for the photos in the picture books.
The first book tells of Henley's adventures when he falls down a hole and gets his head trapped in a tube. During his dilemma, he meets an earthworm and a woodlouse. In the sequel, Henley assists new friends while in search of a rain barrel. The final installment details the journey of Henry and his real life feline friend Stella as they interact with Japanese koi fish.
Recently, Douris added another book of Henley's escapades, this one geared toward a younger audience of six years and under. Published in May 2015, "Henley the Hedgehog Has a Bath" discusses play time and bath time for the quilled creature, complete with adorable posed photos of Henley in a miniature tub.
In Douris's bio, she writes, "I hope that children will enjoy seeing the world through the eyes of a sweet little creature like Henley."
Henley even has his own catchy jingle. Check it out in the footage below:
Douris knows that being outdoors is important, so Henley has his own pen set up in the backyard. But his claim to fame started when Douris created a small-scaled photo shoot at Kew Gardens in Kew Beach Park along the coast in Toronto.
She sought a large tree with a nook where a small wooden door, made by her husband, Nick Robins, could be fit as an entry way. The tree needed an exit, too, for when Henley decided to go exploring inside his home away from home. An oak tree across from the baseball field would become the chosen stomping grounds.
When Douris finished shooting the photos for the third book, she decided to leave the miniature home set up in the park. Kids and parents visiting the gardens took a liking to the mysterious tiny house, referring to it as the "fairies' home."
Children started lining up rock pathways and leaving compact home decor on the lawn, such as small recycling containers. Parents even went as far as to purchase an itty bitty picket fence for the spiny homeowner.
When word spread and the origin of the fairies' home was revealed, youth began scrawling notes to Henley on crumpled looseleaf and Post-its, sometimes sealed inside of plastic Easter eggs.
Now, Toronto's "The Star" reports that the tree nook is "a sort of wishing well." Adults have even begun to participate, penning get well wishes and pouring out their woes.
Trending with the hedgehog insectivorous diet, Henley's favorite food is mealworms. Bath time for the prickly, four-and-a-half-year-old nugget typically occurs in a bubbly metal wash bin, ending with a toothbrush scrub down.
This millennium's technological age has seen the explosion of social media, including cute and funny hedgehogs blowing up cyberspace with their own Instagram accounts. Henley has his own Instagram and Facebook accounts, too, which stay up to date with postings of Henley posed in sombreros, tea cups, and Santa hats, usually with a grumpy face.
If you're looking for a pet but can't seem to beat the allergies, hypoallergenic hedgehogs are a great alternative to cats and dogs, or even guinea pigs. That's how Henley was added to his family, as a surprise for Douris from her husband.
Be sure to stop by Kew Beach Park if you're in Toronto to check out Henley's home. Kids who have read the books are ecstatic to see the tree house and prickly creature in real life. Adults can't hide their giddiness over the ordeal, either.