You would expect Daniel Pinkwater, author of The Hoboken Chicken Emergency, to have a quirky taste in books. If you tuned in to the radio in 2003 you might have heard him introducing a series of picture books that has a number of unusual characteristics. For one thing, they feature a main character based on writer/naturalist/philosopher Henry David Thoreau. Secondly, the main character (and everyone he interacts with) is a bear. Third, the books are illustrated in a sort of Cubist Expressionist style that you hardly ever see in children’s books.
This July 12, Thoreau turns 200 years old. If you want to introduce your children to his work, the library has a few books that will let children enjoy his writings in his own words:
There are also several books (past the picture book level) that feature Thoreau as a hero or icon. The Dragon Tree opens with a quote from Thoreau, and imagines a magical tree with quotes from all kinds of literature on it leaves. This book was the inspiration for the architectural “trees” decorating the Children’s Services department. It’s also the eighth book in the Hall Family Chronicles, which includes
The Mysterious Circus, in which the Halls foil a new enemy’s plan to build a Henry Thoreau theme park across from their home (with humor and magic).
It’s not too different in theme from
The Trouble With Henry: A Tale of Walden Pond, in which Thoreau defends his beloved woods from a toothpick factory.
Moving into the modern day, we have
Octavia Boone’s Big Questions About Life, the Universe, and Everything. Seventh-grader Octavia puzzles over life‘s biggest questions when her mother seems to find the answers in a conservative Christian church, while her artist father believes the writings of Henry David Thoreau hold the key.
Kids who love humor might prefer
Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking and Other Natural Disasters. When Alvin‘s father takes him camping to instill a love of nature, like that of their home-town hero Henry David Thoreau, Alvin makes a new friend and learns that he can be brave despite his fear of everything.
If you want to read more about the life of Thoreau, we have several biographies. There’s also a guide in our homeschooling section called Henry David Thoreau for Kids: His Life and Ideas, with 21 Activities. Or you could follow this link to see how he invented No. 2 pencils (no, really!). Be sure to check out our display of books!