I found Henry the Explorer, by Mark Taylor, while browsing around at Amazon. It only had 6 reviews but they were all 5-star and the illustrations and story line seemed right up our alley. It's one of a series that was written in the 1960's and then went out of print. They're in the process of being released again (in a very nice hard cover format) and two of the four are now available.
So it came in the mail a couple weeks ago (via my mom--thanks, Mom :-) and after the first couple readings my son and I were both hooked. It's a simple story of a boy who reads a book about explorers one night while in bed during a blizzard. He gets inspired to go out the next day with his dog, Laird Angus McAngus (we love saying that name) and go exploring. Basically, reading + outdoors + (mild) adventure = a great book!
Oh, and the flags...
He, of course, has to begin by making flags to claim all the things he discovers. This sparked some book inspired exploring of our own! We decided to go with green for our flags, and my little guy did a great job of following the pencil lines to make his E's. The next day we taped them to wooden skewers, packed them in a bag and...
He spent the whole morning going around the house claiming things (the heater was a particularly worthy find as you can see.)
We also spent time looking for a mountain to sit on and eat lunch, just like Henry. We even ate our real lunch on the top of the mountain (i.e. a blanket in the middle of the living room.) I love the view in the picture above as he sits on his mountain with Laird Angus McAngus and his sack of flags.
After going into the woods and discovering a cave (with bears, no less), he comes out to find that it's night. The colors and composition in this picture are so simple, yet it's done so skillfully that you feel like your standing right there about to walk out into that big, wintry world...it's breathtaking!
And here they are finding they're way back home. Isn't the night sky beautiful?
Here's another review I just found that conveys even more. We're definitely looking forward to getting the other three books in the this series!