Kirkus Reviews QR Code
HENRY WORKS by D.B. Johnson Kirkus Star


by D.B. Johnson

Age Range: 7 - 9

Pub Date: Sept. 27th, 2004
ISBN: 0-618-42003-7
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Johnson adds new, rich meaning to a common phrase in his fourth Thoreau-esque episode. Responding to questioning neighbors that he’s “walking to work,” Henry strolls in a loop (mapped out on the endpapers) from Walden Pond to Concord and back. He gathers herbs and berries along the way, arranges stepping stones across a creek, delivers a letter as a favor, waters wildflowers, plants wild strawberries in a neighbor’s garden, watches the weather, and then sits down at last to write, “Today I took a walk in the woods.” Despite a bit of magical realism when Henry gets the groundhogs that are ravaging Emerson’s garden to jump into his pocket by tootling his flute, this slice-of-life portrait of a person attuned to, and comfortable in, the entire world around him never comes off as arty or artificial. Nor, though Johnson substitutes clothed bears for humans and paints in a cubist style, do his illustrations. Again, an unassuming, deeply affecting tribute to an essential philosopher and writer. (afterword) (Picture book. 7-9)