John Henry: An American Legend

by Ezra Jack Keats (Author)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

Have you heard the tale?

John Henry was born with a hammer in his hand. He was taller and stronger than anyone around. When men started talking about laying railroad tracks across the prairies and deserts, and right through the mountains, John Henry knew he and his hammer had to be a part of it. And drive those spikes he did!

Then came the day when a challenge was announced: Who could dig a tunnel through a mountain faster--John Henry and his hammer? Or a steam drill?

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Ezra Jack Keats
Ezra Jack Keats (1916-1983) is the Caldecott Medal-winning creator of The Snowy Day, which broke ground as one of the first picture books for young children to portray a realistic, multicultural urban setting. He is best known for his bold, beautiful, and honest interpretations of children of color living and growing in a mid-twentieth-century inner-city landscape.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication date
December 20, 2014
BISAC categories
JUV022000 - Juvenile Fiction | Legends, Myths, & Fables | General
JUV041050 - Juvenile Fiction | Transportation | Railroads & Trains
Library of Congress categories
African Americans
United States
John Henry (Legendary character)
New York Times
Wilson's Children, 10/01/10

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