Henry David's House

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Young readers are introduced to Henry David Thoreau's masterpiece, Walden, through excerpts from the original work.

A reworking of Thoreau's own words from Walden; or Life in the Woods in picture book form. Thoreau chronicles a key chapter in his life his 1845 construction of the one-room cabin that became his treasured abode.

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Young readers are introduced to Henry David Thoreau's masterpiece, Walden, through excerpts from the original work.

A reworking of Thoreau's own words from Walden; or Life in the Woods in picture book form. Thoreau chronicles a key chapter in his life his 1845 construction of the one-room cabin that became his treasured abode.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.
Children's Literature
Thoreau's communion with nature at Walden Pond has persisted as an ideal to subsequent generations ever more removed from his solitary experience in the woods. Schnur has selected and edited passages from Walden that vividly evoke Thoreau's feelings of joy and satisfaction as he builds a simple shelter and a life in harmony with the seasons and the creatures around him. "We can never have enough of Nature," he concludes, a fine rallying cry for those trying to conserve it today. Fiore's vision complements Thoreau's quiet lyricism without being romantically soupy. The full-page, naturalistic paintings offer glimpses of the world he inhabited¾simple scenes filled with quiet passion. Small vignettes detail flowers and fruits, which add substance to his reflections, visual short stories. Notes fill in the background information about Thoreau and Walden Pond. 2002, Charlesbridge Publishing, $16.95. Ages 5 to 9. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
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.
Kirkus Reviews
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)
School Library Journal
Gr 2–5—Although Steven Schnur has edited them down to fit the lovely simplicity of a picture book (Charlesbridge, 2002), the words here are all from Henry David Thoreau's Walden. The text chronicles Thoreau building his cabin and sheds light on his lifestyle and philosophy. Peter Fiore's oil and watercolor paintings are expressive, offering unique perspectives—looking down on Henry David in his boat, a close up of the newspaper Thoreau wrapped his dinner in, with the leftover bread and butter from that meal still in the crumpled pages—and visions of Walden Pond in various seasons. Music throughout as well as sound effects such as geese honking, birds chirping, and horses' hooves clomping enhance the telling. Page-turn signals are optional. The focus is on enjoying nature, and the appreciation of the animals, flowers, food, weather, and meditative solitude offered by nature is evident. This lovely introduction to Walden and Thoreau can be paired with a nature unit or writing assignment.—Geri Diorio, The Ridgefield Library, CT
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780881061178
  • Publisher: Charlesbridge Publishing, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/28/2007
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.14 (w) x 12.04 (h) x 0.23 (d)

Meet the Author

Steven Schnur is the author of several books for adults and children, including Summer: An Alphabet Acrostic and Spring Thaw, the award-winning middle-grade novel The Shadow Children, and two volumes of essays. He teaches literature and creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College and is the literary editor of Reform Judaism magazine.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2002


    This is a lovely children's introduction to the philosophy of Henry David Thoreau. Contemplative young grade-school readers will admire and appreciate the observations of hearing fox footsteps on the snow crust, seeing runaway slaves passing through the forest, and camping in the open-air until enough lumber was chopped to construct the single-room house at the edge of the woods. And with most contemporary school children leading stressful, over-scheduled lives, who will be able to resist Thoreau's dream of leaving the rat race behind, in favor of going 'to the woods' in search of a simpler life. 'Henry David's House' is a lush, beautifully constructed tribute to Thoreau's essence, just when it seems we need it most.

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