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Posted April 30, 2008
Synopsis: When John Henry was born animals from everywhere came to get a glimpse of the new baby. John Henry grew up to be very big and strong. Once when he was a young boy he was able to build a porch, add a wing to the house, and chop down an acre of trees into fireplace logs all before supper. John Henry could outrun horses and could break through boulders with his sledgehammer better than dynamite. After John Henry completed remarkable tasks, a rainbow would appear around his shoulders and he would sing. One day John Henry made a bet that he could drill through a mountain faster than a steam drill. As always, he flabbergasted people when he was able to drill more than a machine. His power was extraordinary and the people cheered for his amazing accomplishment. The rainbow had appeared on his shoulders and John Henry fell to the ground. After he had died people swore they heard the rainbow whisper words saying that dying is not important, what matters most is how well you lived. Evaluation: In the beginning of the book there is a brief history written about John Henry and the quest to discover if he was a real person or not. The original source of the story was given and readers learn that John Henry achieved his place in American literature through a novel, John Henry (1931) by Roark Bradford. The sources for the Black folk ballad were also mentioned since this book contains lines directly from the songs about John Henry. This historical information gives the reader good background knowledge in order to have a better understanding of the story. The plot of the story is very simple and direct. The language is written in a way that portrays the language that John Henry would have used during his time. This really makes the reader connect to the story and feel like they become part of John Henry¿s world while reading. The theme of the story is that people need to take pride in hard work and have good personal qualities. The moral at the end of the story is that is does not matter if we die because all people will die. What truly matters is how you live your life because that is something that lives on long after the body dies. The illustrations in the book add to the story and add details about John Henry¿s culture. The reader needs to examine these pictures closely because they have an abundance of details that make the story come alive.
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Posted January 27, 2003
A Wonderful Piece of African-American Literature
John Henry, written by Julius Lester is a brilliant retelling of an old classic. The illustrations are magnifcent children as well as adults will be delighted by the breathtaking colors. This is a wonderful addition to any child's library.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.