Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Concord Rebel: A Life of Henry David Thoreau is a short work that is written in a straightforward style and is divided into only twelve chapters. Each chapter begins with a quotation from one of Thoreau’s works, which is indicative of August Derleth’s intention of giving his young readers an introduction to Thoreau’s writings along with an overview of his life.

Throughout the book, Derleth quotes extensively, not only from the famous Walden: Or, Life in the Woods (1854) but also from such lesser-known works as A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849) and Thoreau’s multivolume journal. Derleth also quotes from authors who have written about Thoreau and from people who knew him personally. The author does not, however, burden the reader with footnotes or an imposing bibliography. The last two pages of text contain informal descriptive references to books that guide and encourage the young reader in further study.

Concord Rebel is an accessible book by an author who thoroughly understands the tastes and attention span of youthful readers. The chapter divisions are arbitrary. The book is an ongoing account of Thoreau’s interests and activities beginning with his early school days, when he acquired the nickname “Judge” because of his gravity, and his formative years at Harvard University. Throughout the book, Derleth emphasizes Thoreau’s passionate love of nature, his literary...

(The entire section is 471 words.)