When Henry gets a bee in his bonnet to build a cabin in the woods, his friends all help out--mostly with advice. Henry, a bear character based on 19th-century writer Henry David Thoreau, hears from his pal Emerson as they raise the beams. "Henry," he says, "your cabin looks too small to eat in!" But, "it's bigger than it looks," says Henry. He shows Emerson a bean patch he has planted behind the cabin. "When it's finished, this will be my dining room," he explains. A sunny spot beside the cabin will be the library, he tells his friend Alcott, and a path curving down to the pond will be the ballroom with a grand stairway.
The many devout fans of author D.B. Johnson's award-winning Henry Hikes to Fitchburg will be tickled to see another title featuring the placid, self-contained Henry. Johnson's kaleidoscopic colored-pencil and paint illustrations are as fascinating as Henry's perspectives on what a home can be. As in his first title, Johnson makes quiet allusions to other luminaries of Thoreau's time, including Ralph Waldo Emerson and Bronson Alcott. (Ages 5 and older) --Emilie Coulter
From Publishers Weekly
This worthy sequel to Henry Hikes to Fitchburg rewards repeat visits and inspires a joyful respect for nature. Johnson again conjures the practical spirit of Thoreau and venerates simple living. Walden's chapter on "Economy," complete with a budgeted list of building materials, generates the tale of Henry, a patient bear outfitted in a broad-brimmed farm hat and an outdoorsman's warm clothes. In early spring, with heaps of snow melting on the forest floor, Henry diagrams his dream house, a one-room cabin. "He borrow[s] an ax and cut[s] down twelve trees," hews the pine logs into thick posts for the cabin's frame, and constructs his walls from the weathered boards and windows of "an old shed." His thrifty ways and careful measurements indicate his conservationist approach, and his steady progress could inspire a present-day building project. When friends like Emerson and Alcott pronounce the cabin "too small," Henry replies, "It's bigger than it looks." He proudly guides them to a vegetable garden ("This will be my dining room") and a winding path to the pond ("This will be the ballroom"). The conclusion finds Henry happily lolling outdoors in his "library," resting his feet on the windowsill; he gets under his roof only when it rains. Johnson's singular illustrations of the changing seasons exhibit the planed surfaces of cubist paintings. Each scene sparkles as if viewed through multifaceted glass, and eagle-eyed readers will spot New England species like jays, kingfishers, foxes and red squirrels darting around the peripheries. Ages 4-8.
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