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John Henry by Julius Lester

John Henry (original 1994; edition 1994)

by Julius Lester, Jerry Pinkney (Illustrator)

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6466114,945 (4.15)2
Title:John Henry
Authors:Julius Lester
Other authors:Jerry Pinkney (Illustrator)
Info:Dial (1994), Edition: 1ST, Hardcover, 40 pages
Collections:Folklore, Your library
Tags:African Americans, folktales, perseverance, living life to the fullest

Work details

John Henry (Picture Puffins) by Julius Lester (1994)



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Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
This story follows the African Traditional song about the fictional hero John Henry, who proved to be one of the strongest men to ever lived. All of nature took notice when this character was born, knowing that he would one day do work with a single hammer that no man had ever done before. The book covers the Industrial Revolution, specifically the invention of the steam drill used for building the railroad. John Henry represents man's strength and lack of need for machines. This would be a great unit during African American Month, and also in a social studies unit on the Industrial Revolution. I think the book is mostly appropriate between grades three through six.
  LoganBerglund | Dec 6, 2014 |
The winner of the Caldecott Award, this book clearly has great illustrations, but it also contains an awesome tale of one of my favorite myths. John Henry was a humongous man who was able to beat that work of the steam driver while working on the railroads and died mysteriously after the competition. This book has a lot of value for its vivid imagery that strongly compliments the great artwork.
  qrennaker | Aug 14, 2014 |
read for weekly assignment.
An excellent mix of legend and truth in a historical setting that provides enjoyment and hope.
  cpwpsu | Mar 16, 2014 |
Tall tale illustrated by Caldecott winning Pinkney. Tells of John Henry, the man who grew strong quickly and went on the challenge a steam engine.
  bp0128bd | Jan 24, 2014 |
Summary: The story of John Henry begins with all of nature stopping to see his birth. John Henry is born and quickly grows so large he bursts through the roof of his family's home. As John Henry grows, he also becomes very fast and strong. John Henry is very competitive and wins races against his fellow workers, and even a steam drill machine. John Henry's heart bursts from working too hard and too fast, but the people celebrate his life and all the hard work he did.

Personal Reaction: I thought this was a great telling of the John Henry stories I grew up hearing. John Henry's attitude and love of his work is a commendable trait I like to read about to children.

Classroom Extension Ideas:
1. The students could race to make popsicle stick "railroad tracks", the surprise is the tracks pop back up and explode when you let go of the last stick.
2. The students could dress like John Henry did in the book and carry around toy inflatable hammers (like the ones at a carnival) and have a "John Henry Day" in the classroom. ( )
  Sara.rivera | Sep 5, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
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Awards and honors
In memory of my father, James H., my John Henry. – J.P.
First words
This tale attempts to be faithful to the indomitable human spirit John Henry embodies.
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Disambiguation notice
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140566228, Paperback)

John Henry is stronger than ten men, and can dig through a mountain faster than a steam drill. Julius Lester's folksy retelling of a popular African-American folk ballad has warmth, tall tale humor, and boundless energy. Jerry Pinkney illustrates the story with "rich colors borrowed from the rocks and the earth, so beautiful that they summon their own share of smiles and tears" (Booklist).

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:23:09 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Retells the life of the legendary African American hero who raced against a steam drill to cut through a mountain.

(summary from another edition)

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