From the Publisher
"A masterpiece . . .The finest illustrations I've seen in years and years and years."Daniel Pinkwater, NPR Weekend Edition
"An auspicious picture book debut."Horn Book Horn Book
"This splendid book works on several levels. Johnson’s adaptation of a paragraph taken from Thoreau’s Walden illuminates the contrast between materialistic and naturalistic view of life without ranting or preaching. . . . [The illustrations] demonstrate Johnson’s virtuosic control of his craft"Booklist, starred review Booklist, ALA, Starred Review
STAR "A nicely realized retelling of a short passage from Henry Thoreau’s Walden."School Library Journal, starred review School Library Journal, Starred
A Publishers Weekly Flying Start Publishers Weekly
An auspicious picture book debut.
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
Inspired by a passage from Henry David Thoreau's Walden Pond this charming story follows the adventures of two friends who take completely different paths to reach their final destination in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Henry decides to hike the thirty miles through the countryside, exploring nature along the way--he crosses rivers and swamps, carves a walking stick, presses flowers in a book, climbs trees, and finds honey trees and blackberry bushes. While Henry walks all day and enjoys the great outdoors, his friend works around town, trying to make enough money to ride the train to Fitchburg--he sweeps the post office, paints a fence, moves bookcases, and cleans out a chicken house. Although both friends arrive at their destination around the same time, their experiences differ widely. Young readers will enjoy following along as the two stories unfold side-by-side through colorful illustrations and short passages. The author includes clever references to Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne in the text and provides interesting biographical information about Thoreau. This wonderful book offers a great introduction to Thoreau's beliefs about nature and life. It will make an excellent addition to any picture book collection! 2000, Houghton Mifflin Company, Ages 4 to 8, $15.00. Reviewer: Debra Briatico
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-A nicely realized retelling of a short passage from Henry Thoreau's Walden. Henry and his friend decide to go to Fitchburg, a town 30 miles away. "I'll walk," says Henry, but his friend decides to work for the money for a train ticket and see who gets there first. Each subsequent spread marks their progress: "Henry's friend cleaned out Mrs. Thoreau's chicken house. 10 cents./Henry crossed a swamp and found a bird's nest in the grass. 12 miles to Fitchburg." The friend arrives first, barely. "`The train was faster,' he said." "I know," Henry smiled, "I stopped for blackberries." Johnson makes this philosophical musing accessible to children, who will recognize a structural parallel to "The Tortoise and the Hare." The author quotes Thoreau's original anecdote in his endnote. The two friends are depicted as 19th-century bears in the geometric, warm-toned, pencil-and-paint illustrations. Each picture is solidly composed, and although the perspectives may seem somewhat stiff and distracting up close, they work remarkably better from a short distance. The layout and steady pace, as well, make this suitable for storytime. The somewhat open-ended resolution could allow for classroom debate, and is also simply a good ending to a good story.-Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, CA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
[A] beautifully designed and artfully balanced book...The antics and expressions of these bulky competitors add humor to an endearing tale.
The Christian Science Monitor
Peggy A. Sharp
Colorful angular illustrations compare the progress of the two friends on their way to the country town. This friendly competition helps readers better understand the naturalist's view of life and its contrast to the materialistic view.