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Henry David's House Hardcover – February 1, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Schnur (The Shadow Children) deftly plucks Thoreau's own words from Walden, and Fiore's (The Boston Tea Party) luminous watercolor and oil paintings affectingly evoke the simplicity and serenity of this man's existence on his beloved pond. As Thoreau chronicles a key chapter in his life his 1845 construction of the one-room cabin that became his treasured abode he repeatedly marvels at the sights and sounds of the natural world, constantly changing with each season. Schnur's chosen passages reveal Thoreau as a participant in rather than merely an observer of nature: "Sometimes a rambler in the wood was attracted by the sound of my axe, and we chatted pleasantly over the chips which I had made." Spare yet eloquent, Thoreau's words offer intriguing insight into his lifestyle as well as his philosophy. Describing the minimal contents of his house, he notes, "My furniture, part of which I made myself, consisted of a bed, a table, a desk, three chairs (one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society)." Fiore's striking panoramas underscore the beauty and the appeal of the locale that became Thoreau's home and inspiration, while the interiors and spot art emphasize the simplicity of his lifestyle. Ages 5-9.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-8-Using selected highlights of Thoreau's own words, this picture-book adaptation of Walden, or Life in the Woods follows Henry David's building of his cabin, from borrowing neighbor Bronson Alcott's axe in March of 1845 to his first spring on Walden Pond. Because the words are exact quotes, the language is rather difficult at times, using a style and vocabulary that are more formal than that of modern language. In addition, while most of the text is written in the past tense, the part in which Thoreau describes his completed house uses present verb forms and, thus, is a bit unsettling to the ear. Still, the overall effect of the words is to establish a mood of tranquility. That mood is greatly reinforced by the full-page watercolor illustrations, and their impressionistic style often focuses on selected aspects of the author's descriptions, rather than trying to retell the complete story visually. The soft palette underscores the peacefulness and quiet in Nature that Thoreau went out to seek. While this book is not likely to be embraced by casual readers, it will be particularly useful to teachers of art and science, and to literature specialists interested in introducing listeners either to Thoreau's literary style or to the concept of journal writing. Consider also pairing it with some nature poetry to inspire students in creative-writing classes.
Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 3
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Charlesbridge; First Edition edition (February 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0881061166
  • ISBN-13: 978-0881061161
  • Product Dimensions: 12.3 x 9.3 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,936,190 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) was a writer and philosopher as well as a naturalist. Walden is considered his masterpiece.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Nathan Andersen TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
Henry David's House makes a fine introduction to Thoreau in his own words. The simple message conveyed in the selected quotations from Walden is that Thoreau went to Walden Pond and built a small cabin with the help of friends and lived there for a few seasons living simply and loving nature. This is, of course, what is widely known about Thoreau even among those who've never read Walden. The illustrations are very lovely, and the passages are carefully chosen. It would make a very nice introduction to the life of a remarkable American thinker -- that would with any luck prepare its readers for a more serious encounter with his ideas.

My only hesitation in recommending this book is that it may falsely confirm the widespread impression that Thoreau was merely a romantic, in search of solitude and natural delight. I find, having taught Walden for years in college courses, that most students approach the book with very little interest because they expect to find there nothing more than this simple account, of an eccentric hermit who writes beautifully about nature. They often find that he is speaking directly to concerns they may never have voiced to themselves about growing up, thinking for oneself, supporting oneself without becoming dependent, either upon an employer or upon the approval of peers, about avoiding the rat race, about not getting caught up in concerns that make one lose oneself. That this small book avoids many of the subjects covered in Walden is not a criticism -- since to cover the topic thoroughly it would need to include much more text and be a much bigger book with fewer illustrations. It is merely to suggest that readers of the book remember that Thoreau's life along the waters of Walden Pond was not merely a nature retreat but a philosophical experiment in living.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Corinne H. Smith VINE VOICE on March 25, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Henry David Thoreau describes his cabin, how he built it, and a little bit of his life in it, in these selected excerpts from _Walden_. Peter Fiore's exquisite paintings provide vibrant accompaniment to each quotation. The result is a beautiful "picture book" any Thoreau fan would be proud to own.
I'm not sure that its target audience should be very young children. If kids pull this one off the shelf, the meaning of the words will be lost on them, and the artwork that goes along with the text won't build the story on its own. Though full of the Walden spirit, this book isn't as engaging to the youngest readers as D. B. Johnson's similar _Henry Builds a Cabin_ or _Henry Hikes to Fitchburg_. Perhaps its best use would be as a multigenerational preface to Thoreau's work, with teacher-student or parent-child combinations reading the book together. _Henry David's House_ could introduce middle school and high school students to the literary and scientific portions of _Walden_ and could serve as a first step in their acquaintance with the author. Teens and pre-teens may balk at being read to, but they're also visual learners who are at an age to appreciate the presentation here. And if it inspires them to pick up Thoreau's classic to read for themselves, so much the better.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on July 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Illustrated by Peter Fiore and edited by Steven Schnur, Henry David's House introduces young readers ages 5 to 9 to the life, thought and writings of Henry David Thoreau. Text and illustration collaborate to showcase the beauty, power and subtlety of solitary living withing the context of a nature-oriented retreat as represented by Thoreau's tiny house in the woods and on the shore of Walden Pond. Henry David's House is an enthusiastically recommended addition to school and community picturebook collections.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Roz Levine on June 19, 2002
Format: Hardcover
"Near the end of March I borrowed an axe and went down to the woods by Walden Pond and began to cut down some tall white pines for timber..." Author, Steven Schnur has chosen several wonderfully engaging passages from Henry David Thoreau's Walden, in this elegant picture book, and young readers will really get a vivid sense of the hard, yet rewarding work of building his house, the few possessions needed to live comfortably, the beauty of the changing seasons, and living the simple life in harmony with nature. "Sometimes, in a summer morning, having taken my accustomed bath, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in a revery, amidst the pines and hickories and sumachs, in undisturbed solitude and stillness, while the birds sang around or flitted noiseless through the house, until by the sun falling in at my west window, or the noise of some traveller's wagon on the distant highway, I was reminded of the lapse of time." Peter Fiore's lush and exquisite watercolor illustrations bring the splendor of Thoreau's existence at Walden Pond to life on the page, and together word and art evoke feelings of peace, quiet, and contentment. Perfect for readers 8-12, this book works well as a real aloud with D.B. Johnson's Henry Builds a Cabin, for younger children. With an editor's note at the end to fill in further biographical details about Thoreau and his time at Walden, Henry David's House is an evocative treasure to read, share, and most of all discuss. "We can never have enough of Nature."
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