John Henry

by Marilyn Roca Enriquez in

Sometimes in publishing, stories come together in ways that one could never have imagined. A year ago, the first issue of OutlooK-12 magazine premiered. From the beginning, we had a School Library section, and the very first book we reviewed was Ezra Jack Keats’ “The Snowy Day.”  Now, with our magazine celebrating it’s first birthday and with the Ezra Jack Keats’ Foundation celebrating what would have been Keats’ hundredth birthday, we are dedicating this month’s School Library to Keats’ timeless children’s books. We would like to thank the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation for the book summaries, fun facts and cover images. To learn more about the foundation’s ongoing activities and events in honor of Keats’ birthday, visit

“John Henry” 
1965 - ISBN: 978-0394890524

The legendary steel-driving man who was born, and died, with a hammer in his hand comes to life in this dramatic tale of heroism and destiny. Each page seems to radiate the vital force that led John Henry to challenge a steam drill to a rock-drilling contest—and win.

Fun Fact: With all the songs and stories about John Henry that Ezra could have adapted, he decided to write his own version. He wanted to portray the man as well as the legendary figure and let the bold illustrations tell a bigger story, mixing history, realism and myth.