cover image If You Spent a Day with Thoreau at Walden Pond

If You Spent a Day with Thoreau at Walden Pond

Robert Burleigh, illus. by Wendell Minor. Holt/Ottaviano, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9137-3

Burleigh puts a contemporary boy in jeans and a T-shirt at Thoreau’s door one morning as the sun comes up; readers stand at the boy’s shoulder as he finds Thoreau already at work. “You would... see nothing but three chairs, a table, a desk, and an old bed. Yet Henry has just what he needs.” The message of simplicity and wonder continues as Thoreau and the boy row on Walden Pond, work in his garden (“I like to make the earth say ‘beans’ instead of ‘grass’ ”), and watch ants fighting: “To Henry, little things matter as much as big things.” Minor paints the meeting of the early American writer and the modern boy matter-of-factly, showing Thoreau in his trademark straw hat and blousy sleeves. Burleigh and Minor (the team behind Night Flight and other historical profiles) focus on the unconventional way Thoreau uses language (“From here the pond is like a wide-open eye staring up at the sky”), the magic of everyday observation, and the implicit anticonsumerist message of his pared-down life. Two afterwords supply more information and quotations. Ages 5–9. (Oct.)