Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Trouble with Henry: A Tale of Walden Pond

The Trouble with Henry: A Tale of Walden Pond

Deborah O'Neal, Angela Westengard
Illustrator:  S.D. Schindler 
Historical Fiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 9
Candlewick Press, 2005   ISBN: 978-0763618285

Henry Thoreau does not like to see what his hometown of Concord has become. It is a bustling, noisy, smelly place full of factories and many of the people think that owning newer, fancier, more fashionable things is the most important thing in life. Henry would prefer to breathe clean and unpolluted air, to hear the sounds of nature, and to wear his patched, but comfortable clothes.

Henry decides that he will leave Concord and build himself a one-room cabin to live in. Situated next to Walden Pond in the woods it will be tranquil and he will be able to enjoy the simple life in the middle of a natural setting. It is to be an experiment to see if he has a better understanding of life than the “foolish rooster” town people who value new parasols, stiff shirts, and factories so highly. In no time he is settled in his very small little home, happily growing beans in his garden and listening to the frogs sing in the pond.

The “rooster” townsfolk are so disgusted and incensed by Henry’s actions that they determine that something has to be done. To Henry’s horror spiteful Mayor Fogg takes on the job of showing Henry” how much his ridiculous pond is really worth.” Unfortunately for the Mayor, Henry has something up his sleeve which will help the whole town see that the beauty of Walden Pond is, in fact, quite priceless.

This wonderful fictionalized account of Henry Thoreau’s Walden Pond experience has a deeply satisfying and thought-provoking environmental message: that progress is not always a good thing and that a clean, protected natural environment is important for the health and happiness of all.

This book will give young readers an excellent first introduction to Henry Thoreau, his life, and his ideas. At the back of the book the author includes an informative section “About Henry Thoreau” which explains further what Thoreau thought and did.

Detailed and beautifully colored illustrations capture the splendor of Henry’s refuge from the world.