I am Henry Finch by Alexis Deacon<br>

cover image

Ill. by Vivienne Schwarz. Walker Books, 2015. ISBN 9781406357134
(Age: 4+) Warmly recommended. Independence, Imagination, Freedom, Breaking out of the mold, Trying something new. Henry Finch lives with the other finches, in a huge flock of finches. Each morning they greet each other with good morning, in the evening good evening, and so on. Not a change occurs to their routine except when the beast appears and they all warn each other and fly to the top of the tree. But Henry one day has a thought. And with that thought, I am Henry Finch, and ponders whether other finches ever have a thought as he does. With this thought he feels destined for greatness and when the beast next appears dives straight at him, saying how great he is. The beast eats him.
Inside the beast, he listens to what the beast sounds like and listens to the beast's thoughts. His thoughts all revolve around eating, and when he says that he would now go and get some, Henry cries out No. Through his thoughts Henry convinces the beast to become a vegetarian. Startled, the beast opens his mouth and out pops Henry and several other things the beast has recently eaten. All the finches welcome Henry back and he tells them about his adventures. They decide to fly off as well, and then come back.
This is an amazing story around using your imagination, about trying things out, about thinking things through, about experience. For those people wanting to be more philosophical, then Descarte's 'I think, therefore I am' could be discussed. But it is certainly a plea for thinking outside the box. And the illustrations compliment the ideas with panache. The use of a fingerprint for all the finches is just enticing, and readers will love seeing the squiggles added to make each finch look birdlike. And clamour to try out this style of illustration for themselves.
Fran Knight