Children's Lit Book Reviews
Thursday, February 11, 2010
By: Julius Lester
Reading Level: 4-8
Genre: Picture Book/Legend
Award: Caldecott Honor Book
"A tall tale and heroic myth, a celebration of the human spirit....The story is told with rhythm and wit, humor and exaggeration, and with a heart-catching immediacy that connects the human and the natural world."
- Booklist Review
Who would benefit from reading this book?: This great book would benefit all that took the time to read it. It follows the legend of John Henry really well and the readability is fairly easy. This is a classic African American tale which has been told for decades throughout the United States.
What problems/conflicts would this book potentially cause?: I don't think that there is anything within this book that would cause any problems. It was well written and follows the legend accurately. Some might venture to say that John Henry never really existed either way this story was created to inspire people. Whether John Henry existed or not isn't really the point of the book.
My reaction: Both of my parents grew up in West Virgina and I'm sure they had this story told to them many times growing up. I have great memories of my mom actually taking the time to tell me the story of John Henry. They took me to the New River Canyon where the tunnels were dug, and that is where the tale of John Henry began. In actuality, there were several John Henries and several tunnels, one of which is the Big Bend tunnel. I think the rhythm of book flows well and the illustrations done by Jerry Pinkney are simply gorgeous. I would recommend this book to all.