Bando shows up in the 12th chapter, titled "In Which I Find a Real Live Man." Sam hears a police siren in the distance, and then he finds a man sleeping near his home tree. He thinks the man might be a bandit on the run, so he calls him Bando. The man in turn calls Sam Thoreau. It turns out that Bando is really a college English professor who had gotten lost on the mountain. When he learns what Sam is doing, Bando honors and validates the boy’s self-imposed retreat from the city to the woods by naming him after American author and naturalist Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862). Thoreau lived in the woods next to Walden Pond in his hometown of Concord, Massachusetts, from 1845-1847, living a life of deliberate simplicity and honing his skills as a creative writer. But really, Sam’s attention to woodsmanship and methods of simplification outdo what Thoreau had done at Walden. Thoreau walked back to town on a regular basis and even traveled to Maine during his time at the pond. And he didn’t have to make his own tools or clothing, either. Still, his book about the experience, Walden, continues to inspire people to be independent and to be thoughtful about the ways in which they live. It has also recently ignited the tiny house movement.
Bando visits Sam again in Chapter 18 ("In Which I Learn About Birds and People") and Chapter 21 ("In Which I Cooperate with the Ending"). Author Jean Craighead George wrote many books with natural settings. She loved animals and nature, and she had been a fan of Henry Thoreau.