Henry's Night

Henry's Night

by D.B. Johnson, Linda Michelin
     
 

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Henry cannot sleep. The sounds of the village keep him awake. If only he could find the whippoorwill, the night bird no one sees, and hear its sweet song! Henry takes his night jar, fills it with fireflies, and sets off with the lantern to track his elusive serenader. But each time he draws near, the bird stops singing and flies deeper into the woods. Henry… See more details below

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Overview


Henry cannot sleep. The sounds of the village keep him awake. If only he could find the whippoorwill, the night bird no one sees, and hear its sweet song! Henry takes his night jar, fills it with fireflies, and sets off with the lantern to track his elusive serenader. But each time he draws near, the bird stops singing and flies deeper into the woods. Henry encounters many wonderful creatures there, but will he ever find his night bird? And where will the whippoorwill ultimately lead him?

In this fifth book of the Henry series, D. B. Johnson recreates the wonder of Henry David Thoreau’s moonlit walks, and shines a quiet comfort into the mysterious night woods.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"From Henry Hikes to Fitchburg (2000) on, Johnson has surpassed all conventional biographers in presenting Thoreau’s philosophy and spirit in ways that will make sense to younger readers. Here, in the series’s fifth outing, he and co-author Michelin wax a bit more poetic and oblique, pairing a present-tense, free-verse journal entry to atmospherically dim scenes of the narrator (or rather, his ursine stand-in) walking, and later floating, through clouds of fireflies and cubist glimmers of rain and moonlight. Unable to sleep one birthday evening, Thoreau slips out of his bedroom and into the branches of a beech tree in hopes of finding an elusive whippoorwill. His search continues into the woods and then onto a clouded lake (“White fog spreads wide— / it rolls from edge to edge / of all I see. / How will I get home? / I make a raft of branches…”) where the night bird comes to him, perching on his head and, later, as morning brightens, singing him to sleep. A great bedtime read, as mysterious and thought-provoking as a zen koan."--Kirkus, starred review
 
"Johnson and Michelin (Zuzu's Wishing Cake) collaborate on this ethereal addition to Johnson's Henry series, based on Thoreau's writing . . . Henry's observations appear on gray-green paper scraps, superimposed on luminous images of moonlit fields and woodlands. Although Henry is alone, Johnson's blurred pictures—in fuzzy-edged shades of lichen, periwinkle and purple—convey lush silence without menace."--Publishers Weekly
 
"Guided by his jar of fireflies—which sparkles in beautiful white light—Henry discovers many plants and animals, jotting sketches and diagrams in the margins of the journal pages positioned on each two-page spread . . . the lulling text makes this ideal material for bedtime stragglers."--Booklist
 
"The nocturnal hues, luminous highlights, and gently skewed perspectives of Johnson’s mixed-media illustrations are a fine balance to the smaller, realistic line drawings in the diary entries tucked on the side of each spread. Rich in sounds and sensory details, the book will make youngsters feel as though they have shared this moonlight walk with Thoreau himself."--School Library Journal
Publishers Weekly

Johnson and Michelin (Zuzu's Wishing Cake) collaborate on this ethereal addition to Johnson's Henry series, based on Thoreau's writing. Henry the bear explores the nighttime forest, tracking an elusive whippoorwill and capturing, then freeing, fireflies and tadpoles in a glass jar. Henry begins his evening in a beech tree overlooking a dim town square. As the village bell tolls nine, he eagerly descends: "I stride off into the woods toward the rising moon.... The bird calls me to follow." Henry's observations appear on gray-green paper scraps, superimposed on luminous images of moonlit fields and woodlands. Although Henry is alone, Johnson's blurred pictures-in fuzzy-edged shades of lichen, periwinkle and purple-convey lush silence without menace. Even when rain drenches Henry and he stumbles ("Brambles grab my hat.... Owl, I ask, am I lost?"), the resourceful bear builds a raft and pushes home through thick fog. The wilderness gives way to a cloudy, golden dreamscape with the North Star as a reference point, implying that Henry never rambled and merely fell asleep in his beech-tree perch. Despite this evasive conclusion, the naturalist's energetic curiosity for flora and fauna remains intact. Ages 3-7. (Apr.)

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Children's Literature - Kris Sauer
Incorporating the ideas of Henry David Thoreau, this book sends children on an enchanting nighttime journey through the woods. In this, the fifth title in the series, Henry—an inquisitive dog—sets off on a moonlit night in search of the elusive night bird. Leaving his village behind, he tromps through the woods, captures fireflies, explores ponds, and goes for a ride on a magical raft, all in search of the rarely seen bird. This charming book has illustrations that somehow manage to capture the mystery and depth of nature's evening magic. Small drawings in the borders of the text illustrate and give facts about various plants and animals Henry finds on his walk. These found items include field crickets, fireflies, barn swallows, white pine needles, porcupines, red fox, meadow mushrooms, and frogs' eggs to name but a few. Using a lyrical style, this is an excellent book that would serve as a wonderful read-aloud for any elementary classroom. In addition, the book could easily serve as an introduction to a poetry unit or in support of a science unit exploring nature, insects, frogs and/or birds. Reviewer: Kris Sauer
School Library Journal

K-Gr 3

As in four previous books, Henry is a placid, thoughtful bear inspired by the 19th-century naturalist Henry David Thoreau. Unable to sleep for the noises in the village, he begins a moonlit walk in search of a whippoorwill. He takes his night collecting jar, which he fills with fireflies to illuminate his path, and then with tadpoles, wiggling in luminous water. He hears the songs of a nighthawk, a pumper bird, and an owl as he walks deeper into the woods. Journal entries record his progress hour by hour, and small drawings of field crickets, porcupines, red foxes, and raccoons document other woodland creatures. He runs through the rain and makes a raft on the shore of a fog-covered lake. As a whippoorwill perches on his hat and sings, he feels "the beat of its bird heart." In a dreamlike ending, Henry falls into the early morning of his room and hears "Whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will" coming from his jar. Then he sleeps. The nocturnal hues, luminous highlights, and gently skewed perspectives of Johnson's mixed-media illustrations are a fine balance to the smaller, realistic line drawings in the diary entries tucked on the side of each spread. Rich in sounds and sensory details, the book will make youngsters feel as though they have shared this moonlight walk with Thoreau himself.-Mary Jean Smith, Southside Elementary School, Lebanon, TN

Kirkus Reviews
From Henry Hikes to Fitchburg (2000) on, Johnson has surpassed all conventional biographers in presenting Thoreau's philosophy and spirit in ways that will make sense to younger readers. Here, in the series's fifth outing, he and co-author Michelin wax a bit more poetic and oblique, pairing a present-tense, free-verse journal entry to atmospherically dim scenes of the narrator (or rather, his ursine stand-in) walking, and later floating, through clouds of fireflies and cubist glimmers of rain and moonlight. Unable to sleep one birthday evening, Thoreau slips out of his bedroom and into the branches of a beech tree in hopes of finding an elusive whippoorwill. His search continues into the woods and then onto a clouded lake ("White fog spreads wide- / it rolls from edge to edge / of all I see. / How will I get home? / I make a raft of branches . . . ") where the night bird comes to him, perching on his head and, later, as morning brightens, singing him to sleep. A great bedtime read, as mysterious and thought-provoking as a zen koan. (Picture book. 6-10, adult)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780547056630
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
04/06/2009
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
9.10(w) x 10.70(h) x 0.30(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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