The Great Picture Book Culling: Day 17

>> Monday, January 19, 2009

Day 17 was a fabulous day for art. Story too - but art takes center stage with these books.

Jo decided to read all the rest of the Henry books. (I blogged about Henry Hikes to Fitchburg here.) She and Alan both chose Henry Works as their favorite for the night. In Henry Works we see Henry start his day with a long walk in the woods - tending to the forest, helping friends - generally being part of a community. People think he's not doing anything, and his response is always, "I'm walking to work." When he gets home, he sits down and begins to write. Today I took a walk in the woods. . .

A beautiful story, beautifully told, with beautiful art. On this page Henry is giving some water to the plants along the path. Click on the picture to make it bigger.Do you see the ladybugs? How about the deer peeking around the tree? Jo always notices these tiny details and D.B. Johnson's paintings are full of them.

My favorite of the night was Henry Builds a Cabin, in which Henry builds his cabin at Walden. Henry's friends keep coming by while he works and tell him that his cabin is "too small to eat in," "too dark to read in," etc. Henry's response is always "It's bigger than it looks" as he shows them the place outside the cabin where he will do all those things. At the end he says, "It's bigger than it looks. This is just the room I wear when it's raining."

We also see Henry use an old shed for lumber, old shingles for the walls and roof, and used windows for light. I love the message of simplicity, building just what you need and no more, reusing things that are still good. But it doesn't hit you over the head with it and the book never feels preachy. Johnson's text is just like his pictures - something grown-ups will appreciate but never forgetting that kids are the real audience for the book.
Again with the tiny details. Jo always notices the little snake in one corner, and she loves the bird stealing a bite of Henry's sandwich in the other. It's all just wonderful.

Jo also read Henry Climbs a Mountain - the last of the Henry books. This one is about the night he spent in jail.

And we ended the night with something completely different - Little Boy with a Big Horn by Jack Bechdolt with art by the incomparable Dan Yaccarino. I already blogged about this book here - but I neglected to include a scan of the art, so here is most of a two-page spread.sigh

I love his art.

Read-a-thon status so far: 64 books read
Books culled so far: 11


Karin January 22, 2009 at 12:13 PM  

can i just say how jealous I am at your amazing collection of books? ones that have amazing artwork and text that is as fun for an adult as it is for a kid -- that's such a hard thing to do. (and to find!)

so anyway, thanks for providing some new direction for our family reading time here.

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