John Henry

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One of my “new” books, this one for the grandchildren and based on an old song.

Published in 1994, and named a Caldecott Honor Book, the writing is engaging and the illustrations are as energetic as John Henry.  Here is a description of when John Henry, doubly-handedly  tackled breaking through rock even impervious to dynamite:

The crew didn’t know what to do.  Then they heard a rumbling noise.  They looked around.  It was John Henry, laughing.  He said, “If you gentlemen would give me a little room, I got some work to do.”

“Don’t see how you can do what dynamite couldn’t,” said the boss of the crew.

John Henry chuckled.  “Just watch me.”  He swung one of his hammers round and round his head.  It made such a wind that leaves blew off the trees and birds fell out of the sky.


The hammer hit the boulder.  That boulder shivered like you do on a cold winter morning when it looks like the school bus is never going to come.




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