THE TROUBLE WITH HENRY

A TALE OF WALDEN POND

In this well meant (if a little overdone) tribute, the great maverick Thoreau shrugs off the scorn of Concord’s bustling, consumerist townsfolk—some of whom exhibit respiratory ailments from the sooty air—and builds his cabin near Walden Pond. When he hears of plans to construct a toothpick factory next door, he fights back by inviting those same head-shakers to stand with him in the woods, and to recall the pleasures of quiet and clean air. Schindler uses a folk art–style to illustrate the fictional episode, posing the smiling, rail-thin Thoreau and his neighbors in natural ways, while creating a strong sense of time and place with period dress and buildings. Though not quite as intimate a glimpse into Thoreau’s character as D.B. Johnson’s Henry Hikes to Fitchburg (2000) and its sequels, this too will leave readers curious to know more about this gentle rebel. (biographical afterword) (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7636-1828-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2005

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PRAIRIE TRAIN

As the Great Northern chugs its way to St. Paul, past fields “stitched together / in brown and yellow patches, / like Grandma’s quilt spread over the hills,” a lone child in her Sunday Best gazes happily out the windows, takes a meal in the dining car (surreptitiously dropping sugar cubes into her wallet as mementos), makes friends with those seated around her when the train is temporarily halted by a snowdrift, then steps off at last, and into her grandmother’s arms. Thompson places the ride in the 1920s or ’30s, depicting passengers and elegant interiors with photorealistic sharpness, then backing off to show the big train steaming its way through towns and over rolling prairie. Despite occasional anxious moments, the generally buoyant tone of this individual odyssey will reassure prospective young travelers, and trainiacs will pore over the period details. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-688-13433-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2003

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UNITE OR DIE

HOW THIRTEEN STATES BECAME A NATION

Memorable for the contrast between the melodramatic title and Czekaj’s funny cartoon scenes of popeyed children putting on a low-budget stage play, this account of our Constitutional Convention should leave even less attentive readers with some idea of what the resultant document is all about. The curtain rises on players in state-shaped costumes running around shouting “Hooray! Freedom!” In subsequent scenes they fall to squabbling (“I know what’s best for me”) under the weak Articles of Confederation, recognize the need for change and gather (all but Rhode Island, that is) in sweltering Philadelphia for long, secret negotiations—nearly failing to reach consensus until Connecticut proposes the Great Compromise over the nature of the two legislative houses. “Who will be the first to sign? George Washington, of course!” A lively way to kick off discussions of how the Constitution works and why it’s still a living document, especially with readers too young to tackle Jean Fritz’s Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution (1987). (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-58089-189-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2009

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