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
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.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal
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