Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Thomas Jefferson Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything

http://www.slj.com/2014/01/standards/curriculum-connections/presidents-day-books-for-celebration-and-study/#_

Thomas Jefferson Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything

Written and Illustrated by:  Maira Kalman
Published:  2014

This is a historical picture book about Thomas Jefferson.  The author, Maria Kalman, tells us all about Thomas Jefferson's life his interests, his great accomplishments, and even his flaws.  

This book uses different types of fonts.  There is typeface font and handwriting font making the book very interesting to read for children.  It livens up the history about the 3rd president.  The handwriting also serves as a way to tell when the author is putting her own voice in the text.  For example, when he talked about Jefferson loving music the text says "he practiced his violin three hours a day."  Then under that she writes "How did he have time for that?"  She puts these questions and comments of her own throughout the book.  Other than those type of comments the book seems very truthful and straightforward.  She definitely does not hide anything about Jefferson's life.  When talking about how Jefferson owned slaves she writes that he was a "monumental man that had monumental flaws."  She also stats that "Jefferson may have been a kind master, but it was still a horror."  One of the most surprising parts of the book is when she discusses that "it is strongly believed that after his wife dies, Jefferson and children with the beautiful Sally Hemings."  There are many facts in the book and I think Kalman does a great job of introducing those to to the reader.  You really get a great snapshot of who the president was as a person and not just the president.  

The illlustrations in the book are very bright and beautifully painted.  The story starts on the end pages with a portion of the Delaration of Independence written in bold print.  The artist uses a combination of frames and full bleed to show Jefferson's life.  She does a great job of painting very accurate details in a way that children will be drawn to.    She uses a full bleed and many colors and great details of the slaves cooking showing us that they did the work and that was were the real living happened.  On the next page is a framed painting of Jefferson's dinning room.  The table is very well decorated and looks more like a museum than where one would live and eat.  This is almost like a photograph of Jefferson's house.  At the end of the book she discusses Jefferson's death and that he was buried under a gravestone that he designed.  There are vertical and horizontal lines.  The monument and the tree are  in the middle of the page bringing your attention to them and keeping things symmetrical.  The hills however are the horizontal line bringing attention to the land that Jefferson loved.

I think this book is a great tool to have for students to read to learn more about Jefferson.  I could see an upper grade student using this and making some type of report/activity about Jefferson's life and the facts that he/she learns in the book and other supplemental materials. There are so many facts to choose from! 
I found some great books to also look at to compare about Jefferson located here!

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