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Henry Climbs a Mountain Hardcover – September 22, 2003


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 3
  • Series: Henry
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (September 22, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618269029
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618269020
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 11.1 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #793,650 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

*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 Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

D.B. Johnson, one reviewer has written, "has brought down the curtain on the static picture book for children. With the recent publication of his Mother Nature Rhymes (iPad only for now), [Johnson] has singlehandedly transformed the picture book into a dynamic event. From now on, if it isn't interactive and doesn't have multimedia (animation and audio at least) as an ePub publication, it is just too too old hat. There are picture books aplenty with animation and audio today, but they must run inside dedicated apps which cost thousands of dollars to produce. [Johnson] has created an ePUb-formatted eBook that any writer or illustrator can assemble on their own with no greater cost than the software tools they are already using, plus an understanding of HTML5 and CSS--open-source web programming tools that are easy to learn. Authors can now independently and economically produce finished products and sell them directly to their readers. Mother Nature Rhymes consists of 15 two-page spreads, with an original rhyme on one page and an illustration on the facing page. Gentle sound effects accompany the gentle animations, as birds and butterflies fly between the pages, a robin on a swing is wooed by a red-eyed virago, and other aural and visual treats delight your little ones as you read them to sleep."
D. B. Johnson's most recent print book, Magritte's Marvelous Hat, was inspired by the work of Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte and is filled with Magritte-like word puzzles and impossible pictures that will spark the imagination of both children and adults. The book includes four overlay pages that transform the pictures as the page is turned. In a starred review, School Library Journal says of Magritte's Marvelous Hat..."The artist's fascination with the limits of perception and two-dimensional representation provides mind-boggling images that children will relish. Johnson's additional layer of a hide-and-seek game and the inclusion of his own tricks offer more reasons to look closely. An author's note gives a brief context. Moving back and forth between this book and Magritte's art would be instructive and enjoyable for puzzle enthusiasts of any age. Beckoning, buoyant...brilliant."

D. B. Johnson's goal with each of his picture books is to draw children to the complex ideas in great works of literature and art. His first illustrated children's book, Henry Hikes to Fitchburg (Houghton Mifflin 2000), introduced one of his most endearing characters: Henry the bear. Henry is based on Henry David Thoreau, a nineteenth-century writer and philosopher who advocated a simple way of life, unencumbered by material possessions. Winner of several prestigious awards, Henry Hikes to Fitchburg "works on several levels," according to Booklist. "Johnson's adaptation of a paragraph taken from Thoreau's Walden ... illuminates the contrast between materialistic and naturalistic views of life without ranting or preaching."

In a starred review of the fifth book in his Henry series, Kirkus wrote: "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." Henry's Night is ..."a great bedtime read, as mysterious and thought-provoking as a zen koan."

In addition to his "Henry" books, Johnson has also created several other characters that have engaged young readers. In Eddie's Kingdom a young artist (inspired by the Quaker folk painter, Edward Hicks) draws a picture he hopes will bring an end to all the arguments he hears from the tenants sharing his apartment building. Another original picture book, Four Legs Bad, Two Legs Good!, takes place on a falling-down farm where Farmer Orvie, a pig, spends too much time napping to keep things in proper order. With simplicity and humor, Johnson adds a lively new chapter to George Orwell's classic, Animal Farm. And his 2010 picture book, Palazzo Inverso, introduced children to the topsy-turvy world of Dutch artist M. C. Escher. With what Booklist lauded as "an undeniably impressive bit of optical trickery," readers turned the book upside-down at the end and read all the way back to the beginning in an endless Escher-loop.

Customer Reviews

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And, the illustrations are excellent.
Amazon Customer
Adding yet another title to his Henry-David-Thoreau-as-portrayed-by-bear series, author D.B. Johnson serves up his tightest Henry tale to date.
E. R. Bird
As a sixth grade literature teacher, I like to challenge my students.
Rita K. Petrullo

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Wuddus on September 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
As the third of this illustrator's riffs on themes from Thoreau (this time, a take on HDT's famous night in jail), "Henry Climbs a Mountain" is not immediately as satisfying as the first two ("Henry Hikes to Fitchburg" and "Henry Builds a Cabin"). The illustrations have lost some of the joy that distinguishes the first two books. The colors seem more subdued and the scenes less captivating. (One picture in particular, where Henry begins to imagine his way into the jail-cell wall, is positively awkward.)
That said, "Henry Climbs" is the most resonant of the three. For a book of some thirty-two pages, there's a lot going on here: a "Harold and the Purple Crayon"-like meditation on art and creativity; a parable on freedom and slavery; even a comment (I think) on compassion and interconnectedness. It's no wonder this book isn't as fun as the first two! But it's still far from somber. Johnson's insertion of small creatures throughout, especially Henry's fellow cellmate (a mouse), brightens the mood considerably, and the whole book ends on a two-page spread that's appropriately vernal in its color and hope.
The Henry who stopped for blueberries on the way to Fitchburg and still arrived in time for a moonlight sit with his friend has changed. (I'd say he's not just for kids anymore, but then, he never really was.) It's good, though, to see this bear growing up just a little. One misses the ecstatic illustrations of "Fitchburg" and "Cabin," but I think "Climbs" will stick with the reader longer. This is one of the most intelligent picture books of the year--a worthy successor to Johnson's first two books and, like the others, a wonderful way to re-energize even a jaded adult's fondness for Thoreau.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the third and most bold of D.B. Johnson's series of children's picture books depicting an eccentric bear named Henry to imaginatively reconstruct elements from Henry David Thoreau's life. The illustrations are colorful and playful and evocative, and the story is told with a simplicity that Thoreau himself would admire.

The story combines an account of Thoreau's night in jail (as a result of his refusal to pay taxes to a country that would support slavery and an unjust war in Mexico) with his encounter with a wilderness so wild it frightened him on the top of Mount Katahdin in Maine. It is a brilliant combination, that reminds those who know about Thoreau of the connection between his political engagements and his personal explorations, and that suggests to newcomers that freedom is not what you are given by your government but something you achieve by standing up for what is right. It is scary and involves personal risk, but can change the world. I highly recommend this book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Algernon D'Ammassa on January 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Nearly every page of this story contains a passage to a thoughtful conversation with your child. The story is based on an incident from the life of Henry David Thoreau. Henry the bear is missing a shoe, and is on his way to the cobbler when he is stopped by the taxman and must spend a night in jail because he didn't pay. In the jail cell, Henry starts to draw on the walls and gets lost on his creative landscape, hiking up a mountain he created and meeting a friend. It is a beautiful, simple story that will provoke thoughtful questions. There is, for instance, an act of civil disobedience and its consequence. The breadth and power of imagination is also an important theme. A turning point in the story follows an act of generosity. Again, it is an entertaining story that may give you and a young reader lots to talk about together and for that it is highly recommended.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on April 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
You laughed as you read, "Henry Goes To Fitchburg". You gasped as you read, "Henry Builds a Cabin". And now comes the boldest addition to the Henry series yet. In true Thoreauian fashion (life's too short not to write the word, "Thoreauian" once in a while) Henry's back and he's mad. Mad at the state for legalizing slavery, that is. Adding yet another title to his Henry-David-Thoreau-as-portrayed-by-bear series, author D.B. Johnson serves up his tightest Henry tale to date. The book is a gutsy (and, some might say, timely) tale of disrespecting an immoral authority.

One day, Henry the bear decides to go mountain climbing. Trouble is, he seems to have only one shoe (the other being fixed at the local shoemaker's). So, one-footed Henry decides to visit the shoemaker and get his article of clothing back. While in town, he meets up with Sam the tax collector. Sam asks Henry why he hasn't paid his taxes. "Pay a state that lets farmers own slaves? Never!". So it's off to the clinker for Henry. While there, he removes some crayons from his pocket and begins to draw on the wall. First he draws a second shoe. Then flowers. Then a path, and a river, and finally the mountain Henry wanted to climb in the first place. Reaching the top (for he has now created his own reality) he meets a traveler escaping North. Suffice to say, by the end of the story Henry has given away his shoes and, since someone else has paid his taxes, he bids adieu to the city jail. When asked how it feels to be free he responds, "It feels like being on top of a very tall mountain". And off he goes.

The book draws on a passage of Thoreau's, detailing a similar incident from his life.
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