John Henry
illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
published in 1999


Appropriate age:
Older Kid (age 8-11)
Reading level:
Grade 3
Genre: Fiction
Cultures: Americas, United States, African American
Subjects: Fairies, Myth, History, Fairy Tale


John Henry is stronger than ten men, and can dig through a mountain faster than a steam drill. Julius Lester's folksy retelling of a popular African-American folk ballad has warmth, tall tale humor, and boundless energy. Jerry Pinkney illustrates the story with "rich colors borrowed from the rocks and the earth, so beautiful that they summon their own share of smiles and tears" ( Booklist ).