As lilacs replace daffodils and tulips, and as bare tree branches don vivid cloaks of green, the birds flock to our feeder and serenade us from the evergreens near the bedroom window. One cheeky fellow even tap-tap-taps on our window and adorns a balcony railing. With these scenes in mind, I couldn’t resist today’s perfect picture book:
Title: I AM HENRY FINCH
Written By: Alexis Deacon
Illustrated By: Viviane Schwarz
Publisher/date: Candlewick Press, 2015 (British edition: Walker Books)
Suitable for Ages: 5-8
Themes/Topics: Finches, thinking for yourself, individuality, greatness, social movements
Opening: “The finches lived in a great flock. They made such a racket all day long, they really could not hear themselves think.”
Brief Synopsis: Henry Finch awakens in the silence of the night, has a thought that he can be great, and, despite a major setback, transforms his thoughts into action.
Links to Resources:
- Make thumbprint finches. Candlewick Press has an activity page that shows you how.
- For kid-friendly bird activities, visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Education pages.
- Visit birdsleuth.org for more free bird-related activities.
Why I Like this Book:
This perfect picture book resonates on so many levels: it’s the story of an introverted entrepreneur who breaks out of the sameness of the flock and starts a social movement.
Henry thinks his first thought only during the stillness of the night, when he is free of the cacophony of the flock. Like a true introvert, he needs silence to hear his own inner voice. He then brings this thought into action – an action that he hopes will bring greatness, but that in reality does so much more: it solves a problem and causes others to change.
As change occurs (I won’t spoil it and say what or how), I can’t help but paraphrase a popular song of my youth, if one person does something out of the ordinary, he’s sick; by three, it’s an organization; by fifty, it’s a movement.
The simplicity of the adorable thumbprint red finches and the startling white on black “interior” spreads as Henry contemplates the circle of life, add so much to this picture book and provide a vivid lesson on the necessity of pictures to help tell a story.
It’s no wonder that I AM HENRY FINCH has garnered so many awards: a starred Kirkus review; USBBY/CBC Outstanding International Book; and most recently, the Little Rebels’ Children’s Book Award 2016, run by the Alliance of Radical Booksellers in Britain. I heartily recommend what some reviewers have dubbed a “philosophical” picture book to readers and listeners of any age.
This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!