I am Henry Finch by Alexis Deacon; illustrated by Viviane Schwarz (2014)

[Published by Walker Books]

I really want to start this review in a very intellectual way, spouting forth about philosophy, the concept of self, mental awakening, that sort of thing. My less than rudimentary grasp of philosophy has already deserted me and I suspect you, my wise audience will see right through my non-existent understanding of Freud and his cronies. So I’ll stick with the facts and let you figure out the smart stuff for yourselves.

Henry Finch is one of a great flock of finches. The sum total of their communication is in greeting form, “Good morning Aziz Finch!”, “Good afternoon Babette Finch!”, “Good Night Betty Finch.” You get the idea. The only interruption to this routine is when the Beast comes, at which point they all shout, “The 2015-02-21 12.24.24Beast, the Beast…” and scoot to the top of the nearest tree.

This all changes when Henry Finch wakes up and has a thought. “I AM HENRY FINCH, he thought. I THINK, he thought.” His thoughts run rampant and he realises that with this new-found power, he could be great.

In his quest for greatness Henry Finch challenges the Beast, and ends up being swallowed. Henry’s stomach experience is very deep both literally and figuratively, “I WILL LISTEN TO MY THOUGHTS, Henry Finch said. But they were bad thoughts. YOU ARE A FOOL, HENRY FINCH, he thought. YOU ARE NOT GREAT. YOU ARE ONLY SOMEONE’S DINNER.” Henry’s escape is quite extraordinary and inspires his fellow finches to seek adventures far and wide.

The illustrations in this quirky picture book are wonderful, from the clean white and red pages of the finches, to the contrasting black and white of the Beast’s insides. The thumbprint finches could inspire a fabulous classroom art project, and if you like a challenge you could dabble in a little junior philosophy with your class. There are so many ideas to explore in this story, I can’t wait to find out what my classroom of kids think of magnificent Henry Finch!

Check out I am Henry Finch at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy I am Henry Finch from Fishpond.

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3 thoughts on “I am Henry Finch by Alexis Deacon; illustrated by Viviane Schwarz (2014)

  1. Great review. I look forward to reading this book and thanks for not being too intellectual about it. I found your site from a tweet by Viviane Schwarz, whose illustrations I love. They are so lively and charming.

    • Hey Joy, welcome. It’s so nice to have you all the way from Portland. I totally agree about Viviane’s illustrations, I really loved “Is there a dog in this book?”

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