A fictionalized glimpse of Henry David Thoreau as he might (?) have been known by the schoolchildren of Concord -- the perfect progressive educator and beloved nature walk leader. Henry tutors young Joel in Latin while strolling around Walden pond and while mending a fence to earn money which will buy school clothes for a poor Irish boy; Joel himself is a city boy gradually adjusting to village life -- he's seen learning to handle horses and getting along with the local boys who consider him sissified, but he doesn't so much interact with Thoreau as bask in his reflected glory. Even when Joel is recruited by his tutor to scout the escape route of a runaway slave, despite the fact that his uncle feels such activity is immoral, his crisis of conscience amounts to no more than a twinge. Perhaps if Joel and his cousin Becky had had more doubts about Thoreau's unconventional lifestyle, his character might have emerged as less benign and more vigorous; as it is this is little more than a child's version of a childlike Thoreau.