Review: I Am Henry Finch by Alexis Deacon

I Am Henry Finch by Alexis Deacon

I Am Henry Finch by Alexis Deacon, illustrated by Viviane Schwarz (InfoSoup)

The finches live all together in a flock making a huge racket and not thinking at all. They all say good morning, good afternoon, good evening and good night each day, starting over again each day. The only thing that changed their routine was when the Beast came and ate one or more of them. After that, the flock would shout about the Beast and fly higher in the tree. But then something different happened. Henry woke up and heard a thought in his head. He thought and thought, and realized that someone had to stop the Beast and that he could be a hero! But when he tried to best the Beast, it did not go as planned. Can thinking some more save Henry?

I am a fan of strange picture books and this is certainly one of them. It has a philosophical feel to it, changing from what is at first a look at the cacophony of the modern world and the lack of thinking happening in mobs to then the power of thought, the importance of ideas, and the way that thinking alone can change the world. This is a book that is not pat. It will instead inspire discussion. If you are looking for a picture book to inspire a metaphysical discussion with children, this is it. Clever and smart, it allows children themselves to start to think too.

Using thumbprints as the finches is a fascinating choice. Fingerprints are unique but these birds are anything but. The book then moves to darkness where Henry is inside the Beast. The pages black with white lines, all deep and dark and filled solely with silence and thought. It’s a powerful visual transition.

Not for everyone, this picture book will delight some and confuse others. I hope it delights you like it did me! Appropriate for ages 5-8.

Reviewed from library copy.