December 7, 2010

Walden Then and Now

Walden Then & Now: An Alphabetical Tour of Henry Thoreau's Pond
During a recent unit on trees and forests, I found Walden Then & Now: An Alphabetical Tour of Henry Thoreau's Pond, by Michael McCurdy at our local library.  The book combines historical facts of Thoreau's time living at Walden Pond with lovely wood block print illustrations.

The book is set up in alphabetical order with two distinct reading sections and one wood block print per page.  At the top of each page one sentence discribes an item related to Thoreau or Walden Pond.  The featured wood block print illustrates the mentioned item.  All of the wood block prints were printed in black and white from Michael McCurdy's wood engravings.  The illustrations are interesting and provide enough detail to thoroughly illustrate each alphabetical item.  Each page has a separate paragraph after the illustration.  This paragraph details the object and tells of a highlight from Thoreau's time at Walden Pond.  At times, this paragraph attempts to describe how the world has changed since Thoreau's lifetime.  Some of these paragraphs were interesting and thought provoking.  Others bordered too much on glorifying the creation rather than the Creator.  I also did not care for the reference to "Mother Earth" on the Y page.  

The book contains more information than my four year old cared to listen to being read.  So, due to the book's layout, I read only the top sentence of each page aloud and discussed the illustration with my preschooler.  The paragraphs at the bottom of the page were skimmed and highlighted for him, but I did not read all the content aloud.

Overall, the book has lovely illustrations from wood block engravings, and is a decent introduction to Thoreau's life at Walden Pond for elementary aged children.  Due to the overall tone and references to mother earth, it is not a book that I would recommend purchasing.  However, the book may be worth a trip to the library if you are studying trees, forests, or Thoreau.

This post has been shared at the Hip Homeschool Hop.

1 comment:

  1. Stopping by from the HHH this morning! This is a great review, it is sometimes hard to find nature books that don't lean too much toward the mother earth/save the earth. Thoreau is definitely an interesting person, thanks for sharing your pov.


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