A legend lives on in this polished debut by Kessler and Jackson. John Henry moves from folk figure into mythical heights; pounding steel and singing his tunes, he's an inspiration to every worker, a natural man with a hammer in his hand--nation-builder and hero. ""A man's got a heart inside,"" sayeth John, ""a big old beatin' heart. But a machine ain't got nothin' but a soul of cold steel."" Kessler niftily mines this wonderful story for humor as well as pathos: ""At two years old, he was jugglin' chickens for fun. At six he was wrestlin' with razor-backed hogs and jugglin' chickens at the same time."" Jackson's high-spirited illustrations, featuring sculptured, glistening supporting characters and John Henry's larger-than-life presence, are a superb complement to the story. A bright, funny piece anytime; a special pleasure to read aloud.