Children’s Book of the Week: Whitefoot
Whitefoot: A Story from the Center of the World by Wendell Berry, illustrated by Davis TeSelle
Oh boy is this ever a Henry book. I grabbed it from the library because it’s by Wendell Berry, and about a mouse, and didn’t really pay any attention to what it was until we sat down to read it as a before-bed chapter book. Eli lasted about two pages before declaring he was ready to sleep, so Henry and Zuzu and I read on. It’s not really a chapter book, so, well, we just kept reading, and 40 minutes later we were done, and we all felt special and transformed from having spent those 40 minutes thinking about the world from a mouse’s perspective.
Wendell Berry is a poet, and the prose does have a poetic feel, but not in the overly-flowery way, rather in the economy-of-words way. Which works perfectly for telling a story about a mouse. The illustrations work brilliantly with the prose, too, and certainly helped in drawing us into the story (they’re realistic and detailed pencil drawings). Whitefoot is a mouse who gets caught in a flood, and floats down river on a log. That’s about all that happens. Still, it’s amazing and wonderful to think about how a mouse would actually feel in such a situation. Plus I appreciated an animal book, from an animal’s perspective, but that didn’t anthropomorphize the animal. Whitefoot doesn’t talk, and doesn’t think in human terms. Some kids might get bored by the lack of talking animals, or the lack of relative action, but if your child is interested in animals, it’s a winner.