Saturday, November 24, 2012

If You Spent a Day With Thoreau at Walden Pond; Robert Burleigh - author and Wendell Minor - illustrator

Robert Burleigh and Wendell Minor (illustrator)
Henry Holt & Co. - Christy Ottaviano Books 2012

Henry David Thoreau dedicated his life to living simply and exploring nature, and in 1845 he built a simple cabin in the woods in Concord, Massachusetts so he could study and enjoy the beauty of nature around him.

In this beautiful book, the author and illustrator collaborate about what spending a day at that cabin in the woods with Thoreau might have been like for a young child.  Through gorgeous illustrations, and a story about nature, children and adults alike should enjoy this book, and be able to engage in meaningful conversation afterward.

The reader witnesses a young boy arriving early at the cabin on the shore of a gorgeous pond. Once inside we see how, for at least this man, (1) bed, (1) table and (3) chairs and a kerosene lamp, was all that was needed to be content living alone in the woods with nature, contending "living a simple life is the best way to be happy." Thoreau and the young boy spend their day, going out on the boat and studying the fish in the clear water of the pond. They listen to the different birds and even see a hawk, as well as other critters as they walk in the woods, pick huckleberries and just enjoying nature.  When day is done the young boy waves goodbye and Thoreau writes in his journal about all the two had experienced together.

If reader allows their imagination travel back to the time when Thoreau inhabited a similar simple cabin, a message about living simply and enjoying the beauty around us will make for good parent/child conversation.  A great message for young children today who often spend too much time indoors, in front of a television or video games.

What makes this lovely story all the more special is the beautiful illustrations; I especially loved the map of the pond on the end boards.  I've had the pleasure of  enjoying other books by this illustrator that, like this book are truly one of a kind.  If gorgeous illustrations are as important to you as the story itself, I suggest you check out other books illustrated by Wendell Minor.

Another thing I loved about this book was that at the back of the book was a biography of Thoreau (1817-1862) as well as some famous quotes and observations.  Here is one of that is probably one of his most famous, and happens to be a favorite of mine as well.

"If man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.  Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away."

Highly Recommended for children (5 or over)


  1. This looks like a delightful children's book and the illustrations are great.

  2. I wouldn't mind getting a copy of this book. This seems like a wonderful book for children and adults. Lovely review!

  3. love love love -- I'll have to get this!!

  4. That was a very Thoreau review! Hey, sent you an email.

  5. I think this one sounds and looks lovely. How true that our youth have forgotten how to play. We have iPads in our school 5th-8th grade and they even take them to recess. Makes me very very sad.

  6. The art in this book is so warm. Love it.

  7. I will have to keep this in mind for the next time I need a children's book. This is exactly the type of story I would have loved as a child. (And still do as an adult!)

  8. Aren't we lucky that we can spend a day with Thoreau (via this book!) Thank you for sharing it.

  9. Oh my....what a beautiful book, and what a great idea for gift giving. I'm definitely getting one for our library!

  10. I wonder if my son would maybe feel like he's too old for this one. I may have him give it a look.

  11. This is why I don't mark all as read on my reader een when I get way behind. I would miss stuff like this! I love Thoreau and need this one in the house!


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