Henry’s Map

David Elliot. Philomel, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-399-16072-1
In a story that blends ideas about cooperation and orderliness with a gentle existential crisis, Elliot, best known for his illustrations of Brian Jacques’s Redwall books, introduces Henry, a “very organized sort of pig.” Henry takes pride in his tidy sty (“A place for everything and everything in its place,” he says, quoting the 19th-century aphorism) but decries the messy state of the farm. “How could anybody ever find anything out there?” he wonders (although the farm looks pretty darn kempt in Elliot’s pencil-and-watercolor illustrations). Henry decides to draw a map to sort things out and, armed with pencil and paper, makes his way across the barnyard. All the animals are excited to be included, falling in line behind the earnest cartographer, whose childlike, squiggly drawings are a comical counterpoint to his seriousness of purpose. From a hilltop overlooking the empty farm, the animals are puzzled when they look at the map (“Where did we go?”), and Henry quickly leads them back to their dwellings, to the relief of all concerned. Elliot’s barnyard animals brim with personality and emotion, matching the understated humor of this charming story. Ages 4–8. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/29/2013
Release date: 06/27/2013
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