Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Fo'c'sle: Henry Beston's

The Fo'c'sle: Henry Beston's "Outermost House"

Nan Parson Rossiter
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 7 to 9
David R Godine, 2012   ISBN: 978-1567924336

Henry Beston had a little house built on a distant sand dune. Though it was small, it was his refuge from the busy world, a place where he could listen to the wind and the ocean, and write in peace. Henry planned on using the house “only occasionally,” but in September of 1926, after his two week stay was over, Henry decided to stay a while longer. In the end he stayed in his little house, the Fo’c’sle, for a whole year “to watch the unheralded ceremony of Nature unfold and to write about the never-ending pageantry of Creation.”

   Though Henry was alone, he was not lonely for he was always busy. He saw the people in town when he walked there to get supplies, and the birds were always there to keep him company. He wrote about his avian neighbors in his journal, delighting in the rhythm of their lives.

   The winter that year was harsh, the worst that anyone had experienced in fifty years. Henry stayed warm and cozy in his little house, a driftwood fire in his fireplace keeping him warm. The surfmen who patrolled up and down the shoreline were grateful to sit a spell in front of the fire, to talk to Henry, and to collect and deliver letters for him.

   When the winter finally began to “release its icy grip on the weary coast,” Henry began to notice the little changes that indicated that spring was on its way. He even went out onto the dunes in the middle of the night to hear and watch the migratory birds flying over his head.

   In this special and memorable nonfiction picture book the author pairs beautiful paintings with a lyrical description of the year that Henry Beston spent living in his little house by the ocean. The author includes quotes from Henry’s writings that capture the awe that he had for the natural world, and the wonder that he experienced as he watched the year unfold before his eyes.