From School Library Journal
Grade 1-3-In his third book based on the works of Henry David Thoreau, Johnson tackles the writer's philosophy on civil disobedience. Feeling the yen for a mountain hike, Henry the bear sets off to retrieve one of his shoes from the cobbler. But before he can pick it up, he is jailed for nonpayment of taxes. While there, Henry uses crayons and his imagination to create for himself a new shoe, trees, and a mountain path to explore. At the top of his imaginary mountain, he meets an unnamed, barefoot traveler. Although the stranger's comments indicate that he is an escaped slave seeking freedom, his fur is the same color as Henry's-they are, after all, both bears. Henry gives the traveler his shoes and best wishes, then returns barefoot to his cell. Despite dealing with complex themes, Johnson's text does a fine job of explaining the essential conflicts without oversimplifying them. The colored-pencil-and-paint illustrations, filled with stylized, geometric forms, incorporate natural and historical details, such as posters offering rewards for the return of escaped slaves. Notes at the end offer more information about Thoreau and his writings, which explain the story's origins and deeper themes. Children will also enjoy the book as a tale of triumphant imagination akin to Crockett Johnson's Harold and the Purple Crayon (1955) or Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are (1988, both HarperCollins). Fans of Henry's first two adventures will welcome this title, as will adults seeking to begin discussions on ethical behavior or human rights.Eve Ortega, Cypress Library, CA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
*Starred Review* K-Gr. 3. This fanciful picture book, the third in the series that began with Henry Hikes to Fitchburg
(2000), takes its inspiration from Walden
and "Civil Disobedience," in which Thoreau describes a night spent in jail. Here Henry the bear, confined to a cell after refusing to pay taxes to a state that allows slavery, takes his crayons and begins to draw pictures on the wall. In a sequence reminiscent of Crockett Johnson's Harold and the Purple Crayon
, Henry then climbs into the scene he is creating. Hiking along the mountain path, he befriends a traveler who is walking northward to freedom. An appended note comments on Thoreau's love of mountains, his hatred of slavery, and the influence of his writings on civil disobedience. The story seems more dreamlike than the previous ones in the series, but the simple, direct telling is very satisfying, and the stylized illustrations, in colored pencil and paint, look fresh and inviting, providing a lightly cubist, appealingly askew perspective of the world. Clearly the bear, like the man, sees things a little differently from most. A new avenue for introducing Thoreau and the issue of slavery to young children, as well as another story for Henry's admirers. Carolyn PhelanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved