Cover image for John Henry
Title:
John Henry
Author:
Lester, Julius.
Personal Author:
Physical Description:
1 audiocassette : analog + 1 book ((unpaged) : color illustrations ; 30 cm)
Summary:
Retells the life of the legendary African American hero who raced against a steam drill to cut through a mountain.
General Note:
"Read-Along Cassette."

Accompanied by book of same title: New York : Dial Books, c1994.

Side 1 includes page-turn signals; side 2 has uninterupted reading.
Language:
English
Reading Level:
AD 720 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.0 0.5 12457.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 4.5 2 Quiz: 06135 Guided reading level: M.
Added Corporate Author:
ISBN:
9780788200861

9780803716063

9780803716070
Format :
Sound Cassette

Sound Recording

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Lackawanna Library CASSETTE KIT 1016 BK Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Summary

Summary

Based on an African American folk ballad, this story tells of the legendary contest to the death between a spirited man with a hammer & a steam drill to build a tunnel through the Allegheny Mountains f West Virginia. It's not how long you live, but how well you do the living, John Henry proclaims, awe inspiring words for all of us


Summary

Nothing can stop John Henry-no boulder, no mountain, and definitely no steam drill. Newbery Honor winner Julius Lester writes with such power that this African-American folk hero becomes as awesome as a natural phenomenon. Jerry Pinkney received a Caldecott Honor for his exuberant, glowing watercolor paintings of the hero. The book, celebrating its tenth year in print, was also a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winner, a Parents magazine Best Book, and an ALA Notable Book, among other honors.


Author Notes

Writer, professor, and photographer Julius Lester was born in St. Louis, Missouri on January 27, 1939. He received a B.A. in English from Fisk University in 1960.

Lester's photographs from the civil rights movement era have been exhibited by the Smithsonian Institution and are part of Howard University's permanent collection. In addition to having hosted radio and television talk shows in New York City, Lester has also recorded two albums.

Lester has published 25 children's books, as well as numerous works of nonfiction, fiction, and poetry for adults. Translated into eight languages, his books have won the Newbery Honor Medal, the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, and the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award. Many of his titles have also been on the New York Times Outstanding Book list and the American Library Association's Notable Book list. Lester has written hundreds of reviews and essays for publications including The New York Times Book Review, The Boston Globe, The Village Voice, The New Republic, and the Los Angeles Times Book Review.

After teaching for two years at the New School for Social Research in New York, Lester joined the faculty of the University of Massachusetts in 1971. He is an award-winning professor in the Judaic and Near Eastern Studies Department and an adjunct professor of History. He has given lectures at over 100 colleges and universities.

Lester has five children and lives with his wife and cat in a small Western Massachusetts town.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Writer, professor, and photographer Julius Lester was born in St. Louis, Missouri on January 27, 1939. He received a B.A. in English from Fisk University in 1960.

Lester's photographs from the civil rights movement era have been exhibited by the Smithsonian Institution and are part of Howard University's permanent collection. In addition to having hosted radio and television talk shows in New York City, Lester has also recorded two albums.

Lester has published 25 children's books, as well as numerous works of nonfiction, fiction, and poetry for adults. Translated into eight languages, his books have won the Newbery Honor Medal, the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, and the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award. Many of his titles have also been on the New York Times Outstanding Book list and the American Library Association's Notable Book list. Lester has written hundreds of reviews and essays for publications including The New York Times Book Review, The Boston Globe, The Village Voice, The New Republic, and the Los Angeles Times Book Review.

After teaching for two years at the New School for Social Research in New York, Lester joined the faculty of the University of Massachusetts in 1971. He is an award-winning professor in the Judaic and Near Eastern Studies Department and an adjunct professor of History. He has given lectures at over 100 colleges and universities.

Lester has five children and lives with his wife and cat in a small Western Massachusetts town.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 6

Booklist Review

Ages 4 and up. Based on the popular black folk ballad about the contest between John Henry and the steam drill, this picture-book version is a tall tale and a heroic myth, a celebration of the human spirit. Like Lester's great collections of the Uncle Remus tales, also illustrated by Pinkney, 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. ("This was no ordinary boulder. It was as hard as anger . . . a mountain as big as hurt feelings"). The dramatic climax of the story is set at the time of the building of the railroad through the Allegheny Mountains in West Virginia, but Lester begins with the hero's birth, when all the birds and animals come to see the baby and the sun is so excited it forgets to go to bed. Pinkney's dappled pencil-and-watercolor illustrations capture the individuality of the great working man, who is part of the human community and who has the strength of rock and wind. John Henry swings his hammer so fast, he makes a rainbow around his shoulders, and the pictures show that light everywhere, "shining and shimmering in the dust and grit like hope that never dies." ~--Hazel Rochman


Publisher's Weekly Review

A great American hero comes fully to life in this epic retelling filled with glorious, detailed watercolors. From his momentous birth, when all the animals come to see him and the sun won't go to bed, John Henry works wonders. As a child he helps his father by adding ``a wing onto the house with an indoor swimming pool and one of them jacutzis''-and that's just before lunch. Other episodes trace the growth of his generous spirit. His greatest feat is, of course, in his battle against the steam drill, as he races the machine to cut through ``a mountain as big as hurt feelings.'' He dies (``he had hammered so hard and so fast and so long that his big heart had burst''), but the onlookers understand that ``dying ain't important.... What matters is how well you do your living.'' This carefully crafted updating begs to be read aloud for its rich, rhythmic storytelling flow, and the suitably oversize illustrations amplify the text. As only one example, the animal witnesses of his birth reappear throughout, most notably to watch John Henry's funeral train pass by. This may not supplant more traditional retellings, such as Terry Small's The Legend of John Henry, but it is a triumph of collaboration from the creators of the noted Uncle Remus retellings. All ages. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 5-Another winning collaboration from the master storyteller and gifted artist of Tales of Uncle Remus (Dial, 1987) fame. Based on several well-known versions of an African American folk ballad, Lester's tale is true to the essence of the steel-driving man; yet, it allows room for touches of whimsy and even includes some contemporary references that tie the hero to our own times. Told with just a trace of dialect, the story moves along briskly toward the climax. Its moral message of the importance of a well-lived life is clearly stated, and the ending is uplifting. Pinkney's marvelous watercolors, abundantly rich in detail, convey both the superior strength and the warm sense of humanity that make John Henry perhaps a more down-to-earth character than some other tall-tale figures. The paintings' muted earth tones add a realistic touch to the text, bringing this John Henry alive. When viewed from a distance, however, figures and details sometimes blend together, making the book better suited to independent reading that group sharing. It will appeal to an older audience than Ezra Jack Keats's John Henry (Knopf, 1987) and is a fine addition to any folklore collection.-Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, Wheeler School, Providence, RI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Booklist Review

Ages 4 and up. Based on the popular black folk ballad about the contest between John Henry and the steam drill, this picture-book version is a tall tale and a heroic myth, a celebration of the human spirit. Like Lester's great collections of the Uncle Remus tales, also illustrated by Pinkney, 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. ("This was no ordinary boulder. It was as hard as anger . . . a mountain as big as hurt feelings"). The dramatic climax of the story is set at the time of the building of the railroad through the Allegheny Mountains in West Virginia, but Lester begins with the hero's birth, when all the birds and animals come to see the baby and the sun is so excited it forgets to go to bed. Pinkney's dappled pencil-and-watercolor illustrations capture the individuality of the great working man, who is part of the human community and who has the strength of rock and wind. John Henry swings his hammer so fast, he makes a rainbow around his shoulders, and the pictures show that light everywhere, "shining and shimmering in the dust and grit like hope that never dies." ~--Hazel Rochman


Publisher's Weekly Review

A great American hero comes fully to life in this epic retelling filled with glorious, detailed watercolors. From his momentous birth, when all the animals come to see him and the sun won't go to bed, John Henry works wonders. As a child he helps his father by adding ``a wing onto the house with an indoor swimming pool and one of them jacutzis''-and that's just before lunch. Other episodes trace the growth of his generous spirit. His greatest feat is, of course, in his battle against the steam drill, as he races the machine to cut through ``a mountain as big as hurt feelings.'' He dies (``he had hammered so hard and so fast and so long that his big heart had burst''), but the onlookers understand that ``dying ain't important.... What matters is how well you do your living.'' This carefully crafted updating begs to be read aloud for its rich, rhythmic storytelling flow, and the suitably oversize illustrations amplify the text. As only one example, the animal witnesses of his birth reappear throughout, most notably to watch John Henry's funeral train pass by. This may not supplant more traditional retellings, such as Terry Small's The Legend of John Henry, but it is a triumph of collaboration from the creators of the noted Uncle Remus retellings. All ages. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 5-Another winning collaboration from the master storyteller and gifted artist of Tales of Uncle Remus (Dial, 1987) fame. Based on several well-known versions of an African American folk ballad, Lester's tale is true to the essence of the steel-driving man; yet, it allows room for touches of whimsy and even includes some contemporary references that tie the hero to our own times. Told with just a trace of dialect, the story moves along briskly toward the climax. Its moral message of the importance of a well-lived life is clearly stated, and the ending is uplifting. Pinkney's marvelous watercolors, abundantly rich in detail, convey both the superior strength and the warm sense of humanity that make John Henry perhaps a more down-to-earth character than some other tall-tale figures. The paintings' muted earth tones add a realistic touch to the text, bringing this John Henry alive. When viewed from a distance, however, figures and details sometimes blend together, making the book better suited to independent reading that group sharing. It will appeal to an older audience than Ezra Jack Keats's John Henry (Knopf, 1987) and is a fine addition to any folklore collection.-Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, Wheeler School, Providence, RI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


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