Tag Archives: individuality

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.


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. imageOne 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:


9780763678128_p0_v1_s192x300Title: 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:

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!