Perfect Pairing – of Thought-Provoking Picture Books

As we start a new month (and decade), I can’t help but think back to the picture books I’ve read that have stuck with me and caused me to reconsider my place in this world. The two I’ve paired below are two of the most thought-provoking ones I’ve read recently.

I Am Henry Finch

Author: Alexis Deacon

Illustrator: Viviane Schwarz

Publisher/Date: Candlewick Press, 2015 (British edition: Walker Books)

Ages: 5-8

Themes: Finches, thinking for yourself, individuality, greatness, social movement

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

This is a book about Henry Finch who strives for greatness, gets it all a bit wrong, then makes it right again in a very surprising way – truly becoming great. Henry Finch is a total inspiration. This is an inspirational book. It is also very funny. I Am Henry Finch is a book for everyone – from the very young to the very old. It is for dreamers, philosophers, artists, the foolish and the enlightened. And anyone with a big bright idea. Vegetarians will love it too.

Read my review.

 

The Fate of Fausto: A Painted Fable

Author & Illustrator: Oliver Jeffers

Publisher/date: Philomel Books/2019

Ages: 5 and up

Themes: greed, justice, environmentalism

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

There was once a man who believed he owned everything and set out to survey what was his.

“You are mine,” Fausto said to the flower, the sheep and the mountain, and they bowed before him. But they were not enough for Fausto, so he conquered a boat and set out to sea…

Working for the first time in traditional lithography, Oliver Jeffers, combines art with prose, hand set using traditional lead type, to create a modern-day fable.

Read a review by Jilanne Hoffmann.

I paired these books because they both are thought-provoking, philosophical picture books. While children will enjoy these books, adults will not only enjoy them, but I think they will continue to think about the issues raised long afterwards. In I Am Henry Finch, Henry reasons his way out of a problem and, in the process, changes the status quo and the mindsets of his fellow finches. In The Fate of Fausto, Fausto doesn’t think enough about the attributes of his environment, allowing aspects of that environment, themselves characters in the story, to better him. Justice triumphs in both cases, as well as some wonderful discussion opportunities.

Looking for similar reads? See Quill Soup, in which a quick-thinking porcupine spreads the message of sharing by giving of himself.

4 responses to “Perfect Pairing – of Thought-Provoking Picture Books

  1. Well, well, well! I must find this I AM HENRY FINCH! Is it a coincidence that the bird’s feathers look like a fingerprint?

  2. I hit the post button too early! Thanks for the link back to my review. I still think about poor Fausto and the fact he learned a lesson too late….

    • Your review of Fausto encouraged me to find that book, which brought to mind Henry Finch. Thank you! No coincidence on the fingerprint. The illustrations are very simple!

  3. Haven’t read either, but they both sound inspiring books I would enjoy. Thank you for sharing. Will have to look up Henry Rinch at the library.

    One book that has stayed with me for years is “Rain School” by James Rumford, a book I have gifted many times. It’s not philosophical, but is a humbling book for kids.

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