Can thinking change the world? Just ask Henry Finch!
One quiet night Henry—depicted, like the rest of his relentlessly chatty flock, with a red fingerprint and a few expressive black lines—startles awake with the realization that he is self-aware. Moreover, he can think. Lots of different things! He likes it! “I could be great,” he thinks. Spotting the crocodilian Beast who has chowed down on so many of his relatives and recklessly thinking that the time for greatness has arrived, he attacks. This turns out to be a mistake, but heading down the Beast’s gullet, reasoning his way from “I am” to broad cycles of birth and death, he hears the Beast thinking about its own family and needs. Not only does he persuade it to change its diet and release him and the other small creatures trapped in its gut, he flies up to free all of his fellow birds from their clouds of unknowing. Off they soar on ambitious quests of their own, leaving Henry smiling a “finch smile.” Using only very simply drawn figures and changing the color field for “interior” shots to white on solid black, Schwarz conveys Henry’s simple outer and rather more complex inner worlds with a visual boldness that amplifies the exhilaration of his Cartesian epiphany. Henry will be a hero, and not just to readers of a philosophical feather.
Small bird, big thoughts. Greatness achieved. (Picture book. 6-8)