Henry’s Map by David Elliot
Henry was a pig who believed in being neat and tidy with everything in its place. So when he looked out from his very clean sty, he was bothered by the messiness of the farmyard. He decided to make a map, so that everyone could find things on the farm. That meant he had to travel around the farm and write things down. He included the sheep and the woolshed, Abigail the cow with her tree, Mr. Brown the horse and his stable, and the chicken coop. Then all of the animals climbed up a nearby hill to look down on the farm and compare it to Henry’s map. But when they looked closely, none of them were where they were marked on the map! Luckily though, they all knew right where they belonged thanks to the map and back they all went, even Henry.
Elliot has a feel for writing picture books. His pacing is delightful, the storyline is dynamic but not frenetic, and the characters are personable and ones that you want to befriend. Henry is a little pig with a big vision, and there is satisfaction in him completing a big project on his own. Elliot also nicely navigates having just the right amount of text on the page, enough to tell a full story but not too much to overwhelm or bog it down. Add the twist of the animals being alarmed at not being in the same place as the map tells them they should be, and you have a very strong read.
Elliot is the artist behind the Brian Jacques series of books. Here his art has a wonderful playfulness but also a timelessness. This book is beautifully illustrated with lots of jolly characters and one very serious pig. The map itself looks like something a child would make complete with drawings and misspellings.
A top pick, this picture book is perfect for map units in preschool and elementary school. It also makes a fun addition to any farm or pig story time. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Philomel.