Coming on strong last weekend was our only children's Turnrow 20 title for the summer, Andrew Henry's Meadow by the late Doris Burn. The chief bookman here made an executive call when he added this title to the list. He'd read the book when he was a kid, lost it, and for years couldn't remember the title. Lo and behold, he found a used copy not long ago and was taken back to childhood. He shared it with his own children, who expressed a similar enthusiasm, and then just a few months ago was ecstatic to learn that Penguin Books was republishing it this summer.
After reading Andrew Henry's Meadow, we understand why this book resonated over the years. It touches on key interests of childhood and presents a cleverly told, imaginative story without a lot of fuss and with wonderful, simple black-and-white illustrations (see below).
Andrew is a child inventor in the hamlet of Stubbsville. He's an odd bird in a conventional family. His father, mother, brothers and sisters don't often appreciate his whimsical creations, which take up too much room in their home, so Andrew lights out for a distant meadow where he constructs his own house to suit his needs.
Soon a host of the town's other outcast children wander into the meadow and employ Andrew to build their own houses, each structure befitting the child's character and hobbies. Soon a village has sprung up, and the town of Stubbsville realizes all of its precocious children are gone. The inevitable jubilant reunion teaches the townsfolk to embrace their more creative, unconventional elements.
Kids have an innate fascination for tree houses, forts, hideouts and bunkers, so they will love Andrew's meadow dwellings, as will adults, who may recall their own penchant for hiding out. To see the world convincingly through a child's eyes is a great achievement in children's literature, and Ms. Burn, who based the character of Andrew Henry on her son Mark, has done a remarkable job of it.
We're overjoyed to see this back in print and implore you to pick up your copy here, whether for your own kids or as a friend or relative's birthday gift ... or if you just want to feel like a kid again.