A Mind with Wings: The Story of Henry David Thoreau

A Mind with Wings: The Story of Henry David Thoreau

by Gerald Hausman, Loretta Hausman

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It's July 4, 1845. A soft-spoken young man named Henry David Thoreau has carefully constructed a small, simple cabin in the woods overlooking Walden Pond. For the next two years, his closest companions will be the chickadees, the woodchucks, and the quiet pines of the Walden Woods.

Henry is twenty-eight years old, and his life has not been easy. His brother John—his closest friend and companion—has died. The only woman he ever loved has rejected him. On this day he has come to Walden in search of truth—not the truth taught in schools or in church, but the truth he can feel dwelling deep within him.

Henry opens his journal and begins to write:

I went to the woods because I wished to
live deliberately, to front only the essential
facts of life, and see if I could not
learn what it had to teach, and not,
when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

Follow Henry into the woods and out again—through a courageous American life that has changed our world for the better.

For ages 12 and up.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780834826403
Publisher: Shambhala
Publication date: 04/11/2006
Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 160
File size: 532 KB
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

Gerald and Loretta Hausman have coauthored several popular books for young readers including Escape from Botany Bay (a Parents' Choice Silver Honor Award winner), Napoleon and Josephine, and The Mythology of Dogs. Gerald is also the coauthor, with Uton Hinds, of The Jacob Ladder, which was named one of the New York Public Library's Best Books for Teens.

Read an Excerpt

The first overnight visitor to Henry's hermitage at Walden Pond was his friend
Ellery Channing. Seeing the house for the first time, Ellery said, "Why it's a wooden inkstand." By which he meant, of course, that Henry's house was a writer's house. Made by and for a writer. Ellery also commented that the house was so small that by standing on a chair you could reach into the attic,
and by lowering a broom handle you could touch the bottom of the cellar. Ellery later wrote, "It had no lock to the door, no curtain to the window, and belonged to nature nearly as much as to man."

In early November, when Ellery came to visit, the leaves had already gone from gold to brown. "I brought you one of your mother's boiled apple puddings," Ellery said with a grin, taking a seat outside in the warm rays of the sun.

Henry spoke, Ellery listened. It was his habit to wait a few moments after
Henry had stopped talking, just to make sure he was not about to start up again. This was both polite and practical. Ellery found what Henry had to say worth remembering.

On this particular fall day, Henry pleased Ellery with a homespun little rhyme—

seek the present time,

No other chime

Life in to-day—

Not to sail another way,—

Paris or to Rome,

Or farther still from home . . .

very nice, Henry. But what of the book you're writing?"

it's being written. Daily. All by itself. I look and listen, and the book does the writing."

Henry made an outdoor lunch, and while the last autumn leaves lazed on their stems and the pine needles glistened, Henry roasted corn on the coals of an outdoor fire pit. He had baked bread that morning, and the two men drank fresh water from Walden Pond, and then there was the apple pudding for dessert.

"Tell me," said Ellery, after he'd finished the last mouthful of pudding,
"about this book-writing machine of yours."

"See for yourself," Henry teased, in return. Then he pursed his lips. In a reedy voice, Henry sang, "Chick-a-dee-dee-dee-dee."

At once a slate-colored bird dropped out of a pine tree and hopped onto Henry's
Vermont gray coat. The small bird pecked at some threads, and then did a little dance down to Henry's hand. Pinched between Henry's fingers was a soft kernel of corn. The bird took it, and flew off.

I have chapter 1," Henry said, laughing.

"What is chapter 2?" Ellery asked.

Henry stood up, and went inside his house. He returned a moment later with a flute upon which he blew a few airy notes.

Out from under Henry's house, a small brown mouse came scurrying. Two more ethereal notes, and the mouse scampered up Henry's corduroy pants.

2," Henry said.

watching with fascination, started to laugh. "I think I've seen what you're up to."

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