Reviews for Henry David's House
Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 April 2002
Gr. 2-4. "Near the end of March I borrowed an ax and went down to the woods near Walden Pond . . . ." In brief, easy-reading passages chosen by Schnur, Thoreau describes the construction of his famous cottage, lists the possessions he filled it with, and tallies sights and sounds of the changing seasons, concluding, "We can never have enough of nature." Fiore's dappled, impressionistic woodland scenes make the sentiment easy to comprehend, though because his view is more often turned away from the actual house than toward it, children will see less of the building than its setting. Libraries needing a follow-up to offer picture-book audiences intrigued by Johnson's Henry Hikes to Fitchburg (2000) or Henry Builds a Cabin [BKL Mr 15 02] will be well served by this pleasing, sun-dappled picture book for older children. Schnur's afterword provides context. ((Reviewed April 1, 2002)) Copyright 2002 Booklist Reviews
ForeWord Reviews 2002 May
One hundred fiftyseven years ago, the author began his celebrated experiment in Concord, Massachusetts. I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. The editor has selected passages in which Thoreau chronicles his labor of love: he borrowed an axe in March of 1845, and built his own cabin in the woods along Walden Pond. Each doublepage spread moves the reader ahead one month. Thoreau meticulously charts the progress of construction and lovingly details the glories of nature. The illustrator s fullpage lightfilled watercolor and oil paintings capture Thoreau s simple yet eloquent text. In the lower right corner of each text page, Fiore marks the passage of the seasons with lush thumbnail images of nature (ducks upon an iceladen pond, butterfly, water lily, apples, pumpkin, snowcovered berries). Readers may recognize Fiore s impressionistic style from his illustrations for The Boston Tea Party (Holiday House, 1998), and Dear Willie Rudd (Simon and Schuster, 1993). Editor Schnur has also written picture books emphasizing nature, like Autumn: An Alphabet Acrostic (Clarion, 1997) and Spring Thaw (Viking, 2000), as well as provocative middleyear novels emphasizing human nature and moral conflicts like The Koufax Dilemma (William Morrow, 1997) and The Shadow Children (William Morrow, 1994). Schnur thinks that younger children (ages five through eight) will be able to identify with the philosophy of Transcendentalist Thoreau. In the Editor s Note, he writes, Thoreau forever changed the way we think about nature and our place in it. This beautiful book can easily prompt a discussion with children about the trappings of modern life. What would daily life be like without computers, cell phones, and televisions? What would it be like to build a cabin by yourself with only an axe and nails? What would it be like to live in the woods? What can humans learn from nature? The answers elicited will surprise adults and open rich avenues for exploration. Copyright 2002 ForeWord Reviews
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2002 Fall
Using ThoreauÆs own words, Schnur judiciously adapts [cf2]Walden[cf1] for a younger audience. Thoreau describes how he builds a one-room cabin in the woods near Walden Pond and closely observes the seasons changing around him; on the final spread he marvels, ""We can never have enough of Nature."" Impressionistic paintings handsomely capture the surroundings that inspired Thoreau. Copyright 2002 Horn Book Guide Reviews
Kirkus Reviews 2002 February #1
These excerpts from Thoreau's own journal piece together the events that formed the basis for Walden. Borrowing an axe from a friend, young Thoreau enters the woods and begins to cut down trees to build his house. Working alongside the sounds, sights, and smells of nature, he begins to form his philosophy for which he is famous: living life simply. As the seasons pass, Thoreau erects his house and begins to live in the woods full-time. He often sits quietly observing the birds as they flit from tree to tree with only the sounds of humanity to remind him of the passage of time. Whether it is picking ripe raspberries; sitting in a boat on the nearby pond; or entertaining other travelers in the woods, Thoreau is reminded, "We can never have enough of nature." Richly layered watercolor and oil paintings depict the natural world in which Thoreau lived. From large landscape paintings, to that of a single flower or chestnut, readers will enjoy the work's visual appeal as they read through the original text. Written for younger children, this might also assist older children or even adults as an introduction to one of the great philosophers in American history. An editor's note following the text gives more information about Thoreau's life and work. (Picture book. 6-10) Copyright Kirkus 2002 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2002 February #1
Schnur (The Shadow Children) deftly plucks Thoreau's own words from Walden, and Fiore's (The Boston Tea Party) luminous watercolor and oil paintings affectingly evoke the simplicity and serenity of this man's existence on his beloved pond. As Thoreau chronicles a key chapter in his life his 1845 construction of the one-room cabin that became his treasured abode he repeatedly marvels at the sights and sounds of the natural world, constantly changing with each season. Schnur's chosen passages reveal Thoreau as a participant in rather than merely an observer of nature: "Sometimes a rambler in the wood was attracted by the sound of my axe, and we chatted pleasantly over the chips which I had made." Spare yet eloquent, Thoreau's words offer intriguing insight into his lifestyle as well as his philosophy. Describing the minimal contents of his house, he notes, "My furniture, part of which I made myself, consisted of a bed, a table, a desk, three chairs (one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society)." Fiore's striking panoramas underscore the beauty and the appeal of the locale that became Thoreau's home and inspiration, while the interiors and spot art emphasize the simplicity of his lifestyle. Ages 5-9. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2002 May
Gr 4-8-Using selected highlights of Thoreau's own words, this picture-book adaptation of Walden, or Life in the Woods follows Henry David's building of his cabin, from borrowing neighbor Bronson Alcott's axe in March of 1845 to his first spring on Walden Pond. Because the words are exact quotes, the language is rather difficult at times, using a style and vocabulary that are more formal than that of modern language. In addition, while most of the text is written in the past tense, the part in which Thoreau describes his completed house uses present verb forms and, thus, is a bit unsettling to the ear. Still, the overall effect of the words is to establish a mood of tranquility. That mood is greatly reinforced by the full-page watercolor illustrations, and their impressionistic style often focuses on selected aspects of the author's descriptions, rather than trying to retell the complete story visually. The soft palette underscores the peacefulness and quiet in Nature that Thoreau went out to seek. While this book is not likely to be embraced by casual readers, it will be particularly useful to teachers of art and science, and to literature specialists interested in introducing listeners either to Thoreau's literary style or to the concept of journal writing. Consider also pairing it with some nature poetry to inspire students in creative-writing classes.-Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.