Kenny’s Window, illustrated and written by Maurice Sendak is a true children’s classic. Published in 1956, it marks the first time Sendak writes the text as well as draws the illustrations. The poetic quality of the words is complemented by the soft greys and beiges of the dreamy drawings. Kenny, our protagonist is a dreamer, both figuratively and literally as well. He dreams a dream in which he receives seven questions to answer, which he finds on a piece of crumpled paper in his pajama pocket the next morning. In his nightly musings and dreams, he goes on adventures in search of the answers to the questions. At the end, Kenny learns,”A wish is halfway to wherever you want to go.”As the book ends, Kenny, the dreamer, begins to wish, and what he wishes for in his dream-time, he gets.
A Man Named Thoreau, written by Robert Burleigh and illustrated, again in grey and blacks and whites, by Lloyd Bloom, tells of the life and thoughts of Henry David Thoreau. There are excellent quotes from Walden throughout, and the experience that was Walden is explained well and is aimed at a child’s understanding. The reference to Thoreau as a little boy sets the stage for understanding this man’s life, ” [Thoreau] had lived in Concord since he was a small boy…Most of them (the townspeople) thought he was a little strange.” There is mention of his literary friends, Emerson, Alcott, and others. The narrative itself has a calm, soothing effect, much as one imagines Thoreau’s personality may have initially been. In the back appendix is a helpful timeline of Thoreau’s life. For a sensitive child who loves nature and thinks about it, perhaps even marching to the beat of a different drummer, he/she will find a “hero” in Thoreau.