OLD HENRY by Joan W. Blos
Kirkus Star


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By a Newbery winner, a rhymed picture-book about a nonconformist who moves into a derelict of a house and, to his tidy neighbors' consternation, doesn't improve it. Tired of their importunings and even of their kindness, Old Henry takes off for Dakota. But after a winter away, he misses their apple pies, if not the nagging, and is ready to compromise and come back. ""If I mended the gate, and I shoveled the snow, would they not scold my birds? Could I let my grass grow?"" Using the rainbow colors of one of his Caldecott Honor books, The Relatives Came, Gammell depicts Old Henry's chaos with such gleeful enthusiam that anyone would be on Henry's side. No matter that he spends his days reading, eating, and painting rather than doing something ""useful."" He exudes joy; and Gammell shows us not only Henry's gusto for life but also the delight of discovering beauty in any scene he depicts--not just the blooming garden but the gloomy sky; not just Henry's cheerful face, but his anxious, unfriendly neighbors in their dumpy clothes; not just the brilliant hues, but the warm mutations in winter grays and old, unpainted wood. Gammell has turned Bios' rueful cautionary tale into a visual feast.

Pub Date: March 31st, 1987
ISBN: 0688099351
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Morrow