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4.5 out of 5 stars
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Showing 1-10 of 22 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 39 reviews
on June 2, 2013
In a three star review, the reviewer writes, that a reference to jacuzzi is confusing in the story of John Henry. Julius Lester, the author of John Henry, explains in his book "Unlce Remus, The Complete Tales, "...the reader will notice a shifting from past to present tense in some stories. Black English does not make hard distinctions between past and present. Is something that happened in the past but is present in emotions, past or present? It is both, according to black people". I am not black but I get it, and totally agree.

Mr. Lester writes that John Henry added onto his parents home an indoor swimming pool and a "jacutzis". But John Henry is a legend from 1929? How then could a jacuzzi be a part of the story? The reference to the "jacutzis", I found while reading to my grandhcildren, is simply wonderful, a little gift! It delighted the children as I read to them because children instantly feel the excitment of a swimming pool and "jacutzis". It does not matter that the story takes place in 1929 to a child. What matters is that the mention of a "jacutzis" instantly creates excitment in children and they relate to John Henry as a fun loving and caring son who gifted his parents with such gifts of love and appreciation. (It also serves as a cleaver writing tool, for older children).

There are more cleaver examples of past and present emotions used in this wonderful story. But the real treat comes at the end when you read what matters most of all in life is "how well you do your living".

The coupling of Julius Lester with Jerry Pinkney is a wonderful enticement to readers of all ages. It is impossible to turn the page without resting your eyes on each detail that Pinkney so unselfishly provides. His art is never ending. Pinkney has a true respect for children. He does not simply use one medium or repeated shapes. Pinkney illustrates with shadows, lines, several mediums and great passionate attention to detail. Pinkney deliberatly sets a trap to capture children in the love of reading. Before the rooster crows, buy this book.
Uncle Remus: The Complete Tales
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on August 22, 2014
Our grandson loves this story. We actually live just over an hour's drive of Talcott, WV; home of the John Henry statue and the tunnel where John Henry raced the steam drill. Our grandchildren have always been interested in the story of John Henry and consider him to be a true American hero. There are many songs written and sung about him in our area. I was pleased to find this book, especially in hard-cover. Instead of cards (which most people do not keep), my husband and I give our grandchidren a book each year for their birthday and we write our message to them as well as the date and their age on the inside cover. This book was our grandson's "birthday card" or book, I should say; hopefully he will keep the book and be able to remember his birthdate and will always have the message from "Nanny & Poppy" inside.
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on March 26, 2014
I like the John Henry story but this one is not my favorite--very fable, legendary flavor. I like some of the other renditions that seem a little more plausible and bring a wife and family into the story--so John Henry can live on in his children. As an adult, I like the art, but with the exception of a few pages, the artwork is blander in color than most Pinkney art...and since it is a child's book, this detracts. I read it to my 10 and 7 year old grandsons and although I put much more into it than it actually reads, they were not particularly interested and haven't asked for it again. I'll keep it because it may appeal to some of my other grands and because it's okay read aloud by someone who knows how to make the most of the story, but it's not a favorite for me.
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on April 18, 2017
purchased for my grandson who has read about and retold the story of John Henry many times over. He has shared the book with his class
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on February 21, 2014
Right off the back, I have to let it be known that I gave this book 4 stars because of the sheer impact it made on me when I first heard it in elementary school. Today, I am a middle school special education teacher and realize certain things that could have been better of course, but its still a memorable book. The rainbow's, Jacuzzi's, the awkward uses of song and onomatopoeia's make the book very lackluster. The uses of personification and the perfect illustration make this book a significant contender for the best renditions of this classic tall tale.

Story - 3/5
Word Flow - 2/5
Literary Elements - 3/5
Author's Imagination - 2/5
Illustration - 5/5
Color - 5/5
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on April 4, 2014
I'm a music teacher, so I am constantly on the look out for books I can sing to my class. John Henry is a fantastic song of a great African-American hero. While the prose of Julius Lester sings, it isn't the lyrics to the song, so it didn't really meet my needs. It does however read aloud with majesty and grace. I am keeping it for my daughter to enjoy as a bedtime story.

If you are looking for a book with gorgeous prose, this is a five-star book.
If you are looking for a book you can sing, it won't help you, but the illustrations are so damned gorgeous that I can't help but give it four stars for this.
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on December 8, 2016
Used this book to teach a writer's craft lesson on using adjectives to paint a picture. My second graders loved this story and were able to use this as a great mentor text for their writing.
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on June 28, 2016
This is in frequent rotation in our house. Wonderful illustrations and telling of this classic story passed down orally for generations.
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on May 13, 2016
one of our family's favorites. Pinkney is a beloved illustrator that absolutely makes this book perfect. I cry every time.
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on July 6, 2012
This is a nice book. I like it. I don't think my children probably like it as much yet. I wish the illustrations were a bit more child-friendly. They are a bit too artistic and adult for children. The test has a nice rhythm, without being actual poetry. I thought there was more to the story, but I'm probably just remembering it wrong from childhood.
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