Monday, February 18, 2013
If You Spent a Day with Thoreau at Walden Pond, written by Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Wendell Minor. Henry Holt and Company, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2012. $19.99 ages 5 and up
While the child in this story is a child of the 21st century, he visits with Thoreau in his own time and environment. That is the charm of this unique visit with the man who lives a life of simplicity and wonder. He built his cabin at Walden Pond for $28.12 and he has everything he needs right there.
In the environment that surrounds and includes Walden Pond, Mr. Thoreau is able to grow his own food, pick nutritious and delicious berries, drink pure, clean water, and bask in the beauty of bright, warm sunshine. Walden Pond affords him the quiet solitude for he loves; he spent two happy years there.
Robert Burleigh has his readers observe the daily doings through the eyes of the young boy who is our guide. The language is clear, and informative while sounding like a told tale:
"If you spent a day with
Henry, you would share a
loaf of his homemade bread.
After lunch, you would feed
bits of cheese to a tiny mouse
and laugh as its whiskers
tickled your hand."
It is a lovely tribute to a man who lived so simply, and so happily; a reminder to all of us that 'stuff' doesn't have nearly as much meaning as a life well lived. The author includes a two page entry of 'more things' to know about Thoreau, with information concerning The Thoreau Society which 'celebrates and circulates' his writing and his ideas about life and how it can be lived. Then, he adds a page filled with some of his observations. My favorite is this one:
"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears."
Sounds a bit like live and let live...an adage that I TRY to live by!
Wendell Minor creates quiet atmospheric artwork that hums with the life of Walden Pond...sprinkled with sunshine and peace. He uses gouache watercolor in the soft browns and greens of the surrounding woodland, and the bright yellows, blues and greens of the land by the pond. He also uses the endpapers to show us where Henry David Thoreau's house was placed in terms of the pond itself, and includes many of the creatures who share their space. Lovely!