Monday, November 26, 2012

Those Rebels, John & Tom

Booklist starred (December 1, 2011 (Vol. 108, No. 7))

Grades 2-4. It is sometimes easy to think of the Founding Fathers as a bunch of interchangeable guys in wigs and weird pants. This fun, energetic double portrait of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson shines a light on how different these two men were from each other. John was brash, argumentative, and as persuasive as a cudgel. Tom was contemplative, shy, and a wicked wielder of the pen. Together, they formed a bond of mutual respect and used their complementary styles to rally a nation behind them. Showing that even the shining beacons of history are complicated figures, Kerley acknowledges the bitter irony that even as Thomas Jefferson was writing the Declaration of Independence and including a provision to prohibit slavery (later taken out by the delegates), he was likely being served tea by his own slave boy. Fotheringham provides page after page of clever, cartoon-style artwork and skillful compositions—heavily steeped in reds, whites, and blues—that add to the excitement of overthrowing stuffy old King George; an image of Tom skewering the monarch with a giant pen, the newly formed Continental army marching in the background, is especially memorable. A worthy addition to the American history curriculum, this is a terrific book to lead the charge in learning about the Revolution, as well as a lesson in how dedicated cooperation can achieve great ends. An obvious choice to pair with Worst of Friends (below).

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