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John Henry

John Henry

by Brad Kessler, Barry Jackson (Illustrator)

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 1-3-John Henry appears in yet another retelling that seeks to add to the accomplishments of this American hero. This version repeats the traditional story of the baby born with a hammer in his hand, son of sharecroppers or former slaves, and ally of labor. He is pitted, man versus metal, against the new-fangled steam drill, and beats the machine. However, Kessler's reliance on a folksy, down-home approach with a dialect full of apocopes ("Now ain't no history books gonna tell you about John Henry, `cause he was just too plain big for them books") makes the text somewhat confusing. Jackson's illustrations, although bright and colorful, lack consistency and sometimes make the steel-driving man appear downright silly. There are panoramas of the landscape, precipitous trestles, and lines of railroad ties that help give breadth to the monumental task of building a railroad, but all together there is a lack of the quiet dignity that the story of John Henry demands. Stick with Julius Lester's version, the now classic and ever-strong one by Ezra Jack Keats, or Terry Small's retelling in verse. Each adds something that the Kessler/Jackson offering lacks.- Harriett Fargnoli, Great Neck Library, NY

Product Details

Publication date:
Rabbit Ears-A Classic Tale Series
Product dimensions:
8.60(w) x 10.50(h) x 0.10(d)
Age Range:
5 - 10 Years

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