If You Spent a Day with Thoreau at Walden Pond

If You Spent a Day with Thoreau at Walden Pond

by Robert Burleigh, Wendell Minor

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Overview

In 1845 in Concord, Massachusetts, Henry David Thoreau began a radical experiment: he built a cabin in the woods and lived there, alone, examining the world around him. He spent his days walking the shores of Walden Pond, growing beans, observing plants and animals, and recording his reflections in his notebook. These reflections eventually became his seminal work Walden.

In this lovely picture book, Robert Burleigh and Wendell Minor imagine a special day spent with the celebrated writer and naturalist through the eyes of a child. Together Thoreau and the young boy watch small but significant wonders such as swimming fish, fighting ants, and clouds in the sky. It is a day full of splendor and appreciation of the outdoor world.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Burleigh puts a contemporary boy in jeans and a T-shirt at Thoreau’s door one morning as the sun comes up; readers stand at the boy’s shoulder as he finds Thoreau already at work. “You would... see nothing but three chairs, a table, a desk, and an old bed. Yet Henry has just what he needs.” The message of simplicity and wonder continues as Thoreau and the boy row on Walden Pond, work in his garden (“I like to make the earth say ‘beans’ instead of ‘grass’ ”), and watch ants fighting: “To Henry, little things matter as much as big things.” Minor paints the meeting of the early American writer and the modern boy matter-of-factly, showing Thoreau in his trademark straw hat and blousy sleeves. Burleigh and Minor (the team behind Night Flight and other historical profiles) focus on the unconventional way Thoreau uses language (“From here the pond is like a wide-open eye staring up at the sky”), the magic of everyday observation, and the implicit anticonsumerist message of his pared-down life. Two afterwords supply more information and quotations. Ages 5–9. (Oct.)

From the Publisher

“Minor's sweet, verdant watercolors shine in this tale of a straw-hatted old-fashioned Thoreau spending a day with a contemporary boy (complete with running sneakers) by the shores of his beloved Walden Pond. Burleigh interprets Thoreau's own words to create the imaginary day. Henry "wakes with the sun," Burleigh tells us. His tiny house contains "nothing but three chairs, a table, a desk, and an old bed. Yet Henry has just what he needs." Together the two friends row, walk, and weed. They recognize the calls of various birds, wade in Sandy Pond, study ants at war. Now and then, Thoreau's own voice sings out: "I like to make the earth say ‘beans' instead of ‘grass.' " Admittedly, the book takes a soft view of this flinty figure. ("If you spent a day with Henry David Thoreau, you would hike past Fair Haven Hill, where the huckleberries grow . . . Yum!" But as a young child's introduction to the thoughts and work of Thoreau, this captures many essentials. "Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity," Henry wrote 150 years ago. It's still good advice for makers of picture books.” —The Boston Globe

“Burleigh and Minor (the team behind Night Flight and other historical profiles) focus on the unconventional way Thoreau uses language ('From here the pond is like a wide-open eye staring up at the sky'), the magic of everyday observation, and the implicit anticonsumerist message of his pared-down life.” —Publishers Weekly

“…a glimpse of Thoreau's philosophy that young children can understand.” —School Library Journal

“Evocative prose replete with memorable images gives readers a child's-eye view of Thoreau's days...” —Kirkus

“A solid introduction to someone kids should know.” —Booklist

“Lincoln's funeral train took 13 days between Washington, D.C., and Springfield, Ill., and drew 30 million mourners along the way. Abraham Lincoln Comes Home by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Wendell Minor, poignantly imagines a father and son paying their respects on the prairie.” —USA Today on Abraham Lincoln Comes Home

“Moving prose and dramatic night scenes show them as part of a grieving yet grateful nation, paying homage to a fallen hero.” —San Francisco Chronicle on Abraham Lincoln Comes Home

“This quiet, lovely book sensitively communicates a sense of the magnitude of loss felt by so many.” —Kirkus Reviews on Abraham Lincoln Comes Home

“A moving portrait of a cultural moment, before the age of 24/7 electronic media, when tribute was paid to the slain president by those who turned out to see the train pass. Text and pictures convey the watchers' sense of solemnity.” —Chicago Tribune on Abraham Lincoln Comes Home

“Minor's luminous, occasionally almost photographic, paintings portray the adult narrator as a boy, surrounded by a ghostly haze as he walks along the tracks. . . . There's little doubt that railroad aficionados will pore over the crisply rendered railroad memorabilia.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review on The Last Train

School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 2— In 1845, at age 28, Thoreau built a tiny cabin in the woods beside Walden Pond outside the town of Concord, Massachusetts. He lived there for two years, noting in a journal his observations of the animals, plants, and seasonal changes. His book, Walden, condenses his experience into one year spent communing with nature. Here, Burleigh has simplified Thoreau's life at Walden Pond to a short description of one day's activities as heard through the voice of a narrator and seen through the eyes of a modern young boy dressed in blue jeans, T-shirt, and running shoes. "Henry has just what he needs," says the narrator, as the child gazes into the sparsely furnished cabin. As Henry and his young friend drink cold pond water, watch darting fish from a rowboat, weed Henry's bean patch, and listen to bird calls on a walk in the woods, Thoreau uses "teachable moments" to enrich each experience, as he did with the students in his school. Two pages of brief facts about his life and a page of his thoughts on simple living are appended. Minor's impressionist/realistic gouache paintings are filled with the rich blues of sky and water, textured forest greens, and warm browns of cabin, earth, and tree trunks. In D. B. Johnson's Henry Builds a Cabin (Houghton, 2002)- a charming fictionalized story for the same age group featuring bear characters-Thoreau visualizes his tiny cabin as a spacious home. Burleigh's more serious, though somewhat fictionalized, presentation (due to the boy's presence) offers a glimpse of Thoreau's philosophy that young children can understand.—Susan Scheps, formerly at Shaker Heights Public Library, OH

Kirkus Reviews

What would it be like to spend a day with Henry David Thoreau, observing and appreciating nature? Readers are immediately thrust into the world of Thoreau through the experiences of a modern boy who enjoys a day with the great writer from sunrise to dusk. Evocative prose replete with memorable images gives readers a child's-eye view of Thoreau's days, capturing the importance and excitement of being at one with nature. Images of a modern boy in basic jeans, T-shirt and sneakers and Thoreau in simple 19th-century garb wandering through the woods, water and meadows surrounding Walden Pond provide a shimmering tableau of the natural world. While the inclusion of both modern and older dress is initially somewhat jarring, the illustrations are closely interwoven with the text, providing keen visuals that are sure to draw in young naturalists. Initial information may have been helpful in providing children with context, but the end pages include biographical information as well as a selection of both Thoreau quotes and Burleigh's child-friendly interpretations of them. The audience skews a bit on the younger side because of overall tone, but older children will find much to interest them in the subject matter and final pages as well. A fine introduction to the value of Thoreau and the natural world. (Picture book. 4-9)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781466822337
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date: 10/16/2012
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 36
Sales rank: 947,346
File size: 91 MB
Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.
Age Range: 5 - 8 Years

Customer Reviews