Books: Non-Fiction

Henry David Thoreau: A Biography

Book — Non-fiction. By Milton Meltzer. 2007. 160 pages.
A biography of Henry David Thoreau containing relevant pictures and quotes from his contemporaries for middle school readers.

henrydavidthoreauMeltzer continues his portraits of American literary figures in this lucidly written biography of Henry David Thoreau. He traces Thoreau’s life, from his birth and early years to his academic career and his eclectic work as a pencil manufacturer, writer, tutor, lecturer, handyman, and philosopher. The biography is made more intimate with the descriptions of the people who surrounded him, whether family or friends, and how they influenced his life.

Extensive quotes from Thoreau’s works help to support Meltzer’s statements and observations. The quotations add depth to the biography and its subject. In addition, the words of Thoreau’s contemporaries such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ellery Channing, and Nathaniel Hawthorne support the author’s interpretation of the biographical facts.

The book is appealing visually, printed in clear type on smooth pages, and is packed with pictures and photographs of people, places, and items that surrounded Thoreau. The text is elegant in simplicity, of which Thoreau would approve, and is very accessible to most readers. Other features include a detailed chronology, a list of Thoreau’s writing, Internet sources, a guide to sources for visiting sites related to Thoreau, and a fairly detailed index. Meltzer is thorough in his documentation; consequently this title is an excellent resource for research papers and belongs in any middle school or junior high library, if only for that purpose, although biography fans will enjoy making the acquaintance of this American literary giant. [Review from Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA).]

ISBN: 9780822558934 | Twenty-First Century Books