From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3—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
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Johnson’s fifth book revolving around the ideas of Henry David Thoreau takes place at night, as Henry the bear writes in his journal, “I cannot sleep.” So begins a twilight journey that brings Henry into the forest in search of “the one who sings the song of night.” 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 muted colors and hazy shapes probably won’t suit large groups, but the lulling text makes this ideal material for bedtime stragglers. Preschool-Grade 2. --Daniel Kraus