Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Henry David’s House

Henry David’s House

Henry David Thoreau
Illustrator:  Peter M. Fiore 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 5 to 8
Charlesbridge, 2006   ISBN: 978-0881061161

Determined not to be one of the many men who "lead lives of quiet desperation" Henry David Thoreau sets out to build himself a little house in the woods on the edge of Walden Pond. With a borrowed axe he cuts down the trees for his house and with the help of "some of my acquaintances" he raises the frame. By the fourth of July Henry is living in his one room ten foot by fifteen foot home. He savors every special moment, for here, by the pond and in the woods, he can fully appreciate the wonders and peace of nature.

He watches as fall approaches and as the maple trees begin to turn their brilliant red. In the winter he hears the foxes barking in the woods and he is woken up in the morning when the squirrels run across the roof of his home. With delight he watches as spring creeps across the pond bringing with it the loon, the whippoorwill, and the phoebe.

In his own powerful words Henry David Thoreau tells us what it was like for him to experience nature up close. Without the stresses so common in many people's lives, he is able to appreciate the simple joys of life, the beauty found in nature, the changing seasons, and he has the time to reflect on himself and the world as a whole.

This beautifully illustrated and carefully edited picture book will give young readers a tantalizing taste of what Henry Thoreau wrote in his wonderful book "Walden, or life in the Woods," which was first published in 1854. The author provides further information about Henry Thoreau at the back of the book and readers will learn that "Walden", written during the two years that Henry lived in his little house, became one of the most famous books of all time, read by people all over the world.