A Natural Man: The True Story Of John Henry by Steve SanfieldA Natural Man: The True Story Of John Henry by Steve Sanfield

A Natural Man: The True Story Of John Henry

As told bySteve SanfieldIllustratorPeter J. Thornton

Paperback | September 16, 2014

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A masterful retelling about the legendary, steel-driving hero, John Henry.This timeless ballad has been part of American folklore for over a century. Born with a hammer in his hand, John Henry discovers his true calling as a steel-driving man, but he inevitably meets his match in a race against a steam drill that provides a powerful metaphor for the disruption and loss of innocence created by the industrial age. John Henry gains respects from the townspeople due to his courage and strength . Thornton's charcoal drawings deftly capture the triumphal spirit of this cautionary tale. Reviewers praise Sanfield's literary skills and describe the story as "balladry" and "lyrical." Appropriately, the story also includes a song about John Henry that the whole class will enjoy.
Steve Sanfield, an award winning author, poet, and professional storyteller. He became the first full-time Storyteller-in-Residence in the United States under the sponsorship of the California Arts Council. Considered one of the country's foremost storytellers, he is equally renowned for his versions of African-American folktales. Foun...
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Title:A Natural Man: The True Story Of John HenryFormat:PaperbackDimensions:48 pages, 9.82 × 7.14 × 0.12 inPublished:September 16, 2014Publisher:August HouseLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1939160855

ISBN - 13:9781939160850

Reviews

Editorial Reviews

The ballad of John Henry has been a part of American folklore for over two centuries. This book, based on the legend, tells the story of this "natural man." Weighing 33 pounds at birth, John Henry quickly matures into a giant of a man. Freed from slavery after the Civil War, he begins drifting around the country in pursuit of his life's calling. Upon witnessing a railroad track being laid, he realizes that he was born to be a "steeldriving man." After a number of tremendous feats of speed, strength, and endurance John Henry meets his tragic death upon finishing as the victor in a race against a steam drill. The book includes the author's version of the ballad (there are over 50 versions), accompanied by the traditional music. Framed conte pencil drawings are found opposite nearly every page of the narrative, adding nicely to the legend's mystique. These moving drawings stress the geometric volumes of figures and objects. Sanfield's writing has a lyrical quality, and the paradox of man versus machine is evident in the setting, as America began to face the full brunt of the industrial revolution. A worthy addition to any collection of American folklore.