Wednesday, January 4, 2017
I Am Henry Finch, written by Alexis Deacon and illustrated by Viviane Schwarz. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2015. $20.00 ages 6and up
was. Until one night something
else happened. A finch woke up
in the dark and the quiet. He had
a thought, and he heard it. He sat still and listened to his thoughts. He had more of them. He liked them. AM I THE FIRST FINCH TO EVER HAVE A THOUGHT? he thought."
There is absolutely no room for quiet thought in Henry's days. He is part of a flock of finches that are endlessly noisy and boring. They spend the entirety of their days saying four things - good morning, good afternoon, good evening, good night. There is no time for anything else. The only thing that changes their routine is the occasional arrival of the Beast, who comes to make a meal of them.
On the day when Henry awakens ahead of the others, he realizes he has time to think. When he does that, the thinks he would like to stand up to the Beast. He does. It does not go well. The next time we see Henry, he is in the darkness of the Beast's belly. There, all he can do is think, and it is not pleasant. When he finally calms his thoughts, he is able to hear what the Beast is thinking:
"GOT TO EAT.
GOT TO HUNT. GOT TO
FIND MORE FOOD.
BIG FAMILY ALL NEED
WALKING ... ANYTHING
That is when Henry thinks loudly enough for the Beast to hear him. He convinces the monster that he should consider a life of vegetarianism. Can he now make the Beast open his mouth and allow Henry to escape? Why yes, he can!
This is a tale of trusting in yourself, thinking your way out of problem situations, being brave and independent of others while still being a community member. He leads others to find their own way, and to then return home different than when they left. There is a lot to think about here.
Using unique fingerprints and black ink to give character and expression to the finches, Viviane Schwarz adds humor and appeal. You can just see little ones who hear it wanting to explore their own prints. Get the inkpads ready!