Keats, Ezra Jack John Henry (50th Anniversary Edition) 32 pgs, Knopf Books for Young Readers 2014. $17.99 PICTURE BOOKAmerican Legend, John Henry knew how to swing a hammer even when he was a baby. His strength only grew from there and helped him out as he made his way through the world. Eventually he ends up on a railroad crew. When they come to a mountain of a roadblock, will John Henry be able to tunnel through faster than a machine?
Obviously this is a much beloved book if its being republished. But this was my first time reading this version of John Henry’s story and I found that I didn’t care for it much. It sort of feels like a tall tale, but with all the warmth leached from it, like it’s more of a realistic biography. The illustrations are great from an artistic standpoint, but I would actually really like to share with students a more bright and vivid set of pictures that would really bring the story to life. Which is why when I do a unit next week on Tall Tales with the second graders, I won’t be using this book.
EL(K-3) –OPTIONAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.