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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Review: Andrew Henry's Meadow by Doris Burn

I often feel stifled by technology. I love the access to information that the internet allows me, but I hate being tied to a computer. I admit it, I'm a luddite. That's why I am so pleased when I come across a book like Andrew Henry's Meadow. Doris Burn wrote this gem forty-seven years ago, and it is still a great read today. Burn passed away in the Spring of last year, which prompted a reissue of this, her most famous story, I can only hope that we will see new editions of her other works as well.

This is the story of Andrew Henry, a middle child. He has two older sisters and two younger brothers; each pair of siblings is always off doing their own thing. Andrew doesn't seem to mind that though. He is an inventor and always looking for new things to build, but after being pushed out of the kitchen, the living room, and his brothers' and sisters' bedrooms he decides to head off to a meadow outside of town. There Andrew builds himself a house that perfect and just for him. Soon other children from town begin coming to Andrew, asking that he create for them the perfect home away from home. The meadow soon becomes it's own town of curious and imaginative children all following their interests. It's a childhood heaven and reminds me very deeply of my own childhood off in the woods behind our house building forts from fallen palm fronds.

When I think if modern childhood I tend to think of electronics. Of Nintendo, Playstation, WiFi. But when I think of my own childhood I think of puppies, tree houses, and forts. My siblings and I stayed out until dark making up games and (though we didn't realize it then) just enjoying nature. Andrew Henry's Meadow reminded me so deeply of that (even if it did come out decades before I was born). Whether it is merely nostalgia or not, there was a charm to that time that I cannot deny. Modern childhood is so fast paced. I recommend that you grab your kids while you can and throw them outdoors until dark; when they come back inside and you all settle down for bed you should read this story. It will make them that much more hungry for tomorrow's adventures.

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