Henry Builds a Cabin

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Overview

How big does a home really need to be? When Henry decides to build a cabin for himself in the woods, he gets some help and a lot of advice from his friends. But Henry, being Henry, has his own ideas, and he sets about building his house as a bird builds its nest. As he adds everything he thinks his cabin needs, Henry’s new home ends up being a lot bigger than it looks!

Inspired by the life of Henry David Thoreau, and illustrated with nature-filled paintings by author and artist ...

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Henry Builds a Cabin

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Overview

How big does a home really need to be? When Henry decides to build a cabin for himself in the woods, he gets some help and a lot of advice from his friends. But Henry, being Henry, has his own ideas, and he sets about building his house as a bird builds its nest. As he adds everything he thinks his cabin needs, Henry’s new home ends up being a lot bigger than it looks!

Inspired by the life of Henry David Thoreau, and illustrated with nature-filled paintings by author and artist D. B. Johnson, Henry Builds a Cabin is a thoughtful and beautiful meditation on what a home can be.

A bear, modeled on a young Henry Thoreau, appears frugal to his friends as he sets about building a cabin. Includes biographical information about Thoreau.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Thoreau for the kiddie set? Definitely. Author and illustrator D. B. Johnson revives the 19th-century writer's desire to live a simple life with this brilliant picture book starring one determined bear. Henry the bear wants to build a cabin in the woods. As he gathers his materials and begins his project, friends stop by and offer him advice. The small frame of the beams prompts his friend Emerson to observe, "Henry, your cabin looks too small to eat in!" Henry replies, "It's bigger than it looks." He explains that the bean patch behind the cabin shall be his dining room. When his friend Alcott notices it's a bit dark inside the cabin, Henry states that the sunny spot next to the house will be his library. Miss Lydia's remark that there is barely enough room to dance inspires Henry to dance in the curved path to the pond, his "ballroom with a grand stairway." When the cabin is finished, Henry enjoys his dining room and other amenities to the fullest. When a rain shower falls, Henry fits snugly in the walls of his cabin and says, "This is just the room I wear when it's raining!"

Johnson evokes the true sensibility of Thoreau's actions. Enjoying nature and using it's bounties, Henry lives outside of his material world. Young readers will learn that constrictions of the world are only in their minds. Johnson uses colored pencil and paint on paper to illustrate the mighty Henry in the woods. Warm colors and an excellent use of angles and lines allow kids to see Henry's work from various perspectives. Youngsters will love seeing the meditative bear linger around his newly built home, reading in his "library," and eating beans in the "dining" room. The beauty of nature fills every page, from the greenery of the forest to the animals in the woods. Johnson makes every effort to illustrate the joy Henry experiences while living in his cabin.

This creative retelling of one man(bear)'s quest to live in harmony with Mother Earth is sure to inspire young readers to explore and appreciate their very own green ballroom in their own backyard. (Amy Barkat)

From the Publisher
"Johnson's singular illustrations of the changing seasons exhibit the planed surfaces of cubist paintings. Each scene sparkles as if viewed through multifaceted glass." Publishers Weekly, Starred

"This novel way of looking at living space—outdoors as well as in—will appeal to children's sense of logic, which often defies convention. Well balanced structurally and excellent for reading aloud, the text offers a new outlook as well as a good story." Booklist, ALA, Starred Review

"Through striking illustrations and a minimum of words...this early lesson illustrates to youngsters that you don't need much to have everything you need." School Library Journal

"Johnson captures Thoreau's rebellious spirit in simple text and lively art." Riverbank Review

Publishers Weekly
This worthy sequel to Henry Hikes to Fitchburg rewards repeat visits and inspires a joyful respect for nature. Johnson again conjures the practical spirit of Thoreau and venerates simple living. Walden's chapter on "Economy," complete with a budgeted list of building materials, generates the tale of Henry, a patient bear outfitted in a broad-brimmed farm hat and an outdoorsman's warm clothes. In early spring, with heaps of snow melting on the forest floor, Henry diagrams his dream house, a one-room cabin. "He borrow[s] an ax and cut[s] down twelve trees," hews the pine logs into thick posts for the cabin's frame, and constructs his walls from the weathered boards and windows of "an old shed." His thrifty ways and careful measurements indicate his conservationist approach, and his steady progress could inspire a present-day building project. When friends like Emerson and Alcott pronounce the cabin "too small," Henry replies, "It's bigger than it looks." He proudly guides them to a vegetable garden ("This will be my dining room") and a winding path to the pond ("This will be the ballroom"). The conclusion finds Henry happily lolling outdoors in his "library," resting his feet on the windowsill; he gets under his roof only when it rains. Johnson's singular illustrations of the changing seasons exhibit the planed surfaces of cubist paintings. Each scene sparkles as if viewed through multifaceted glass, and eagle-eyed readers will spot New England species like jays, kingfishers, foxes and red squirrels darting around the peripheries. Ages 4-8. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
What makes a house a home? Room to dance? Room to read? Lots of rooms? Henry David Thoreau needed only one small cabin, which he built himself for
— Karen Leggett
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-Through striking illustrations and a minimum of words, Johnson, the author/illustrator of Henry Hikes to Fitchburg (Houghton, 2000), offers another chapter in the life of nature-lover Henry David Thoreau. Revealing a fine sense of economy, Thoreau (in the form of a bear) builds a cabin with room for only the essentials: a bed, a table, a desk, and three chairs. He purchases used materials to save money and incorporates the outdoors as an extension of his living space: a sunny spot nearby becomes his library and the vegetable garden is his dining room. The remarkable, quirky, and somewhat kaleidoscopic pictures depict the building's progress from drawing plans to finished cabin. The colored-pencil and paint illustrations follow the story line in fascinating detail. The tale's end finds the bear rushing through a summer rain to the shelter of his perfectly sized home. Thoreau's appreciation for nature is highlighted in the depiction of trees, pond, and rolling hills, while a wide array of animals is seen in the background. This early lesson illustrates to youngsters that you don't need much to have everything you need.-Maryann H. Owen, Racine Public Library, WI Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In an effective retelling of Henry David Thoreau's cabin-building project, Johnson relates with light-hearted humor how Henry builds a cabin barely big enough for himself. As he builds, he is successively questioned by friends about whether it is large enough to eat in, to read in, and to dance in. Each time he replies, "It's bigger [or brighter] than it looks." Each response incorporates natural surroundings and expands his space since he anticipates eating in his bean patch, reading in a sunny spot beside his cabin, and dancing in the front yard. The rhythm of the story is maintained with construction work intermittently detailed between his friends' visits and queries. In the final scene, Henry barely fits in his cabin as he attempts to shelter himself from the rain. "This is just the house I wear when it's raining." Children will find this moment amusing, though younger, more literal readers may wonder as Henry "wears" his small shelter with his limbs sticking out of the windows and floor. Faceted forms are built of angular shapes and warm, natural colors; multiple perspectives fill the scenes, creating a dynamism that energizes the whole. Those who enjoyed Johnson's Henry Hikes to Fitchburg (2000) will delight in the familiar artistic style and reverence for his inspiration as Johnson again successfully conveys Thoreau's love of nature and his desire to immerse himself in the outdoors. The author quotes Thoreau's anecdote in his endnote and includes details about the building of his cabin that provided shelter for his two-year stay at Walden Pond. Readers will be waiting for more of Henry. (Picture book. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618132010
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 2/26/2002
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 284,033
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.75 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.13 (d)

Meet the Author

D. B. Johnson has been a freelance illustrator for more than twenty years and has done editorial cartoons, comic strips, and conceptual illustrations for magazines and newspapers around the country. Mr. Johnson’s first picture book, Henry Hikes to Fitchburg, was a New York Times bestseller and a Publishers Weekly bestseller, as well as an American Bookseller “Pick of the Lists.” Henry Hikes to Fitchburg also won numerous awards, including the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award for Picture Books and the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award. Mr. Johnson and his wife, Linda, live in New Hampshire.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2014

    Rules for rp

    Definitions: <br> Godmodding: you are unatural and heal very fast. You do more than three attacks per post. You ignore people. <br> Overpowerful: you can come and get away in one post. You can kill in one post. You are perfect in every way with no weaknesses. <br> Powerplaying: you cannot be nocked off and you can dodge even posts with nn. <br> Tattletelling: saying someone did something and counting it as GM, OP, or PP just because you dont like them. <p> Rules: <br> No godmodding (gm), overpowerful (op), powerplaying (pp), or tattletelling (tt). If you see someone doing that, make a post called "REPORT: (name of character) GM/OP/PP/TT; (inside the post) (what the player did)" and i (the manager) will come and give players an ok to ignore them, just remember that ignoring without an ok counts as GM, and allows others to report YOU. If i dont give an ok, <p> School info: im not gonna be any of the teachers or students. Infact, im just the rp manager. I am not gonna rp in it at all. Im gonna post what the places look like. You have to play a teacher if there are no teachers. Choose your schedule (middleschool): homeroom 12, math room 16, reading/writing room 27 (ugh.... ive been doing this for an hour i will continue it at 'great rp' all res.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2010

    Great Series

    This is a terrific series of books. The illustrations are terrific, and it's a great way to introduce children to great literature. There are five books in the series, all of which are based on Henry David Thoreau's classic Walden. By far the best is Henry Climbs a Mountain, but the rest are excellent as well. What is especially nice, is that even though the books are simplified, they still capture much of the Thoreau-vian spirit - although a bit more whimsical. Also recommended Trouble with Henry : A Tale of Walden Pond written by Deborah O'Neal and Angela Westengard and illustrated by S. D. Schindler

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