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HENRY’S NIGHT by D.B. Johnson Kirkus Star


by D.B. Johnson and Linda Michelin & illustrated by D.B. Johnson

Age Range: 6 - 10

Pub Date: April 6th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-547-05663-0

From Henry Hikes to Fitchburg (2000) on, Johnson has surpassed all conventional biographers in presenting Thoreau’s philosophy and spirit in ways that will make sense to younger readers. Here, in the series’s fifth outing, he and co-author Michelin wax a bit more poetic and oblique, pairing a present-tense, free-verse journal entry to atmospherically dim scenes of the narrator (or rather, his ursine stand-in) walking, and later floating, through clouds of fireflies and cubist glimmers of rain and moonlight. Unable to sleep one birthday evening, Thoreau slips out of his bedroom and into the branches of a beech tree in hopes of finding an elusive whippoorwill. His search continues into the woods and then onto a clouded lake (“White fog spreads wide— / it rolls from edge to edge / of all I see. / How will I get home? / I make a raft of branches…”) where the night bird comes to him, perching on his head and, later, as morning brightens, singing him to sleep. A great bedtime read, as mysterious and thought-provoking as a zen koan. (Picture book. 6-10, adult)