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John Henry by Julius Lester
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John Henry (original 1994; edition 1994)

by Julius Lester, Jerry Pinkney (Illustrator)

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7097113,323 (4.16)5
Member:melissadorish
Title:John Henry
Authors:Julius Lester
Other authors:Jerry Pinkney (Illustrator)
Info:Dial (1994), Edition: 1ST, Hardcover, 40 pages
Collections:Folklore, Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:African Americans, folktales, perseverance, living life to the fullest

Work details

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

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» See also 5 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 71 (next | show all)
I would use this as a read aloud during a unit on tall tales. I would use it for any grade above second. I think it's age/maturity appropriate for grades 2-5 depending on how you use it. For 2nd grade I would use it as a read aloud. I would have the students come up with character traits of John Henry based off the story. I would also use to model hyperbole because there is a lot embedded in the story. For older grade, I would have students do a character comparison between John Henry and another tall tale character, like Paul Bunyan. I would also have students do a compare and contrast between different versions of John Henry. ( )
  ewhite06 | Apr 14, 2016 |
Beautifully illustrated and beautifully retold story of the legend of John Henry. The pages turned easily as the story flowed naturally and unfolded into a tear jerker of emotion. The illustrations were intricate and told a story all on their own allowing the reader to pull even more information from. I would read this story to various age levels and adjust the lesson to support each. ( )
  TashaWhite | Apr 9, 2016 |
I liked this book because it could be used in a social skills lesson about determination. I would use this book for that lesson in 2nd to 4th grade. I think students would like this book because where it is a folklore, it is a good book to show that when you work hard for something and are determined, you can achieve your goals and dreams. ( )
  SalemSmith | Mar 27, 2016 |
I would use this book for a second or third grade classroom. I would use this book at these grade levels because it does talk about death. I would use this book in a lesson or as a read aloud book or an independent reading book. This boo would appeal to boys somewhat more than girls. ( )
  LRetzlaff | Mar 8, 2016 |
Summary: John Henry by Julius Lester was a a story about a special young man. When he was born all the birds and animals from a around come to see this handsome young fella. Even the sun and the moon wanted to see him. Not a infant very long he grew so big he broke through the front porch. John Henry set off on a journey and along the way he ran into several people he made bets with and also just to help. The last person he encountered he made a bet that he could do a much better and faster job than a machine could do digging a tunnel through a mountain. He wins but soon after winning and and being applauded for his hard work he died. The people took him to D.C and buried him in the yard of the white house.

Personal Reaction: This book was very interesting no wonder it has a Caldecott Honor. I loved the use of metaphors. The objects such as the sun and moon he gave life to was fun and kept my interest. It was a happy book but had its sad moment but did not seem to keep you in a sad mood because of the person he was. He lived on in the thoughts and memories of others in the story. I enjoyed how he made an impact on the lives of people he encountered.

Extension Ideas: Draw pictures of their own imaginary folk hero. Explore the meaning of strength and courage.
  Dr3a | Jan 31, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Julius Lesterprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pinkney, Jerrymain authorall editionsconfirmed
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In memory of my father, James H., my John Henry. – J.P.
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This tale attempts to be faithful to the indomitable human spirit John Henry embodies.
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:51 -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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