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If You Spent a Day with Thoreau at Walden Pond

Robert Burleigh; illustrations by Wendell Minor

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

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In 1845 in Concord, Massachusetts, Henry David Thoreau began a radical experiment: he built a cabin in the woods and lived there, alone, examining the world around him. He spent his days walking the shores of Walden Pond, growing beans, observing plants and animals, and recording his reflections in his notebook. These reflections eventually became his seminal work Walden.

In this lovely picture book, Robert Burleigh and Wendell Minor imagine a special day spent with the celebrated writer and naturalist through the eyes of a child. Together Thoreau and the young boy watch small but significant wonders such as swimming fish, fighting ants, and clouds in the sky. It is a day full of splendor and appreciation of the outdoor world.

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  • If You Spent a Day with Thoreau at Walden Pond by Robert Burleigh; illustrations by Wendell Minor

    If You Spent a Day with Thoreau at Walden Pond by Robert Burleigh; illustrations by Wendell Minor

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REVIEWS

Praise for If You Spent a Day with Thoreau at Walden Pond

From The Boston Globe:

Minor’s sweet, verdant watercolors shine in this tale of a straw-hatted old-fashioned Thor­eau spending a day with a contemporary boy (complete with running sneakers) by the shores of his beloved Walden Pond. Burleigh interprets Thoreau’s own words to create the imaginary day. Henry “wakes with the sun,” Burleigh tells us. His tiny house contains “nothing but three chairs, a table, a desk, and an old bed. Yet Henry has just what he needs.” Together the two friends row, walk, and weed. They recognize the calls of various birds, wade in Sandy Pond, study ants at war. Now and then, Thoreau’s own voice sings out: “I like to make the earth say ‘beans’ instead of ‘grass.’ ” Admittedly, the book takes a soft view of this flinty figure. (“If you spent a day with Henry David Thoreau, you would hike past Fair Haven Hill, where the huckleberries grow . . . Yum!” But as a young child’s introduction to the thoughts and work of Thoreau, this captures many essentials. “Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity,” Henry wrote 150 years ago. It’s still good advice for makers of picture books.

"Burleigh and Minor (the team behind Night Flight and other historical profiles) focus on the unconventional way Thoreau uses language ('From here the pond is like a wide-open eye staring up at the sky'), the magic of everyday observation, and the implicit anticonsumerist message of his pared-down life."--Publishers Weekly

“…a glimpse of Thoreau’s philosophy that young children can understand.”--School Library Journal

"Evocative prose replete with memorable images gives readers a child’s-eye view of Thoreau’s days..."--Kirkus

"A solid introduction to someone kids should know." -- Booklist

 

Praise for Abraham Lincoln Comes Home:

“Lincoln’s funeral train took 13 days between Washington, D.C., and Springfield, Ill., and drew 30 million mourners along the way. Abraham Lincoln Comes Home by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Wendell Minor, poignantly imagines a father and son paying their respects on the prairie.” —USA Today

“Moving prose and dramatic night scenes show them as part of a grieving yet grateful nation, paying homage to a fallen hero.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“This quiet, lovely book sensitively communicates a sense of the magnitude of loss felt by so many.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A moving portrait of a cultural moment, before the age of 24/7 electronic media, when tribute was paid to the slain president by those who turned out to see the train pass. Text and pictures convey the watchers’ sense of solemnity.” —Chicago Tribune

Praise for Wendell Minor’s art in The Last Train:

“Minor’s luminous, occasionally almost photographic, paintings portray the adult narrator as a boy, surrounded by a ghostly haze as he walks along the tracks. . . . There’s little doubt that railroad aficionados will pore over the crisply rendered railroad memorabilia.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Robert Burleigh; illustrations by Wendell Minor

  • Robert Burleigh has written many children’s picture books, including three illustrated by Wendell Minor: Abe Lincoln Comes Home, Into the Woods, and Night Flight. The recipient of the Prairie State Award, naming him Illinois Children’s Book Author of the Year for 2011, Bob splits his time between Grand Haven, Michigan, and Chicago. robertburleigh.com

    Wendell Minor is the illustrator of many award-winning picture books for children, including the New York Times–bestselling Reaching for the Moon, by Buzz Aldrin, and Ghost Ship by Mary Higgins Clark, as well as numerous nature books by Jean Craighead George. Mr. Minor is also the illustrator of Robert Burleigh’s Abraham Lincoln Comes Home and Gordon M. Titcomb’s The Last Train. He lives in Washington, Connecticut. minorart.com.

  • Robert Burleigh
  • Wendell Minor
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Available Formats and Book Details

If You Spent a Day with Thoreau at Walden Pond

Robert Burleigh; illustrations by Wendell Minor

South Carolina Children's Book Award Master List
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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

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