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WALDEN THEN AND NOW: An Alphabetical Tour of Henry Thoreau's Pond

Author: Michael McCurdy

Reserve at the Library

Publisher: Charlesbridge,

Material: hard cover

Summary: This is an alphabet book based on Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. The author highlights animals, plants, the seasons and the thoughts of Thoreau in this unusual volume. For example: “A is for the angry ants that Henry once saw battling. B is for the bean field in which noisy crows were prattling.” Each letter is accompanied by a wood cut engraving and a short passage explaining how the letter and accompanying sentence relates to Thoreau. This photo-illustrated book reflects the poetry inspired by Walden Pond.

Type of Reading: independent reading, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 8 to 12; read yourself: 9 and up

Interest Level: 5 to 8

Reading Level: 5.8

Age of Child: Read by a 10-year-old girl.

Young Reader Reaction: My friend’ s daughter like the art work but was not too enthusiastic about the text.

Adult Reader Reaction: I thought the book was a clever way of using Thoreau’s iconic essay to teach the ABCs but it was probably wasted on younger children.

Pros: I would use this book with older students after they had read Walden. Adults would probably appreciate this book more than younger children.

Cons: This is not a book for teaching the alphabet. It probably won't work with the younger set.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This is one to borrow from the library.


Educational Themes: This is a book that is more poetic than instructive. It is really designed for older children, and would make an excellent companion to any study of Thoreau's famous essay.

Notes: Bob Walch, Monterey, California, sent us this review. Bob's reviews appear in the Salinas Californian, Watsonville Register-Pajaronian, Aptos Times, Ride/Western Times and Coast Views Magazine. His online reviews can be found at MyShelf, Roundtable Reviews, Parent Click, Midwest Book Review, and I Love a Mystery.

Literary Categories: Nonfiction - picture book, nature, poetry, middle grade

Date(s) Reviewed: October 2010

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