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Young readers are introduced to Henry David Thoreau's masterpiece, Walden, through excerpts from the original work.
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Steven Schnur is the author of several books for adults and children, including Summer: An Alphabet Acrostic and Spring Thaw, the award-winning middle-grade novel The Shadow Children, and two volumes of essays. He teaches literature and creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College and is the literary editor of Reform Judaism magazine.From School Library Journal:
Grade 4-8-Using selected highlights of Thoreau's own words, this picture-book adaptation of Walden, or Life in the Woods follows Henry David's building of his cabin, from borrowing neighbor Bronson Alcott's axe in March of 1845 to his first spring on Walden Pond. Because the words are exact quotes, the language is rather difficult at times, using a style and vocabulary that are more formal than that of modern language. In addition, while most of the text is written in the past tense, the part in which Thoreau describes his completed house uses present verb forms and, thus, is a bit unsettling to the ear. Still, the overall effect of the words is to establish a mood of tranquility. That mood is greatly reinforced by the full-page watercolor illustrations, and their impressionistic style often focuses on selected aspects of the author's descriptions, rather than trying to retell the complete story visually. The soft palette underscores the peacefulness and quiet in Nature that Thoreau went out to seek. While this book is not likely to be embraced by casual readers, it will be particularly useful to teachers of art and science, and to literature specialists interested in introducing listeners either to Thoreau's literary style or to the concept of journal writing. Consider also pairing it with some nature poetry to inspire students in creative-writing classes.
Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI
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