Friday, February 28, 2014

PPBF: Thomas Jefferson, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Everything

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Thomas Jefferson, Life Liberty, and the Pursuit of Everything,
by Maira Kalman, released Jan. 7, 2014.
Thomas Jefferson
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Everything
Written and illustrated by Maira Kalman
Penguin Young Readers, 2014
Non-Fiction, ages 4-10,
40 pages

Themes:
Biography, History, Curiosity

Opening:
     "Thomas Jefferson had red hair and some freckles (about 20 I think), he grew to be very tall and oh, yes, he was the third president of the United States.
     "He was born in 1743 on a plantation (a very large farm) in Virginia.
     "What was he interested in? EVERYTHING. I mean it. EVERYTHING"


Synopsis:
This newly released picture book biography chronicles the life of Thomas Jefferson, centering on his interests at Monticello in a completely kid-friendly format. It gives the standard facts about his birth, death, and major accomplishments. But the author doesn't shy away from Jefferson's contradictory nature. Specifically, the book examines his official stance on slavery vs. his practice. She includes details about his relationship with Sally Hemings in a tasteful, thought-provoking manner appropriate for any age.

What I Love:
The Pursuit of Everything is a fabulously modern example of a non-fiction picture book. It will make a great mentor text worthy of analysis. Kalman uses a variety of fonts, vivid gouache paintings, and conversational text to bring the character of our third president alive. She sneaks sidebars into the layout, grabbing readers unawares, with contemporary information which relates to Jefferson's day. She integrates current topics, challenging vocabulary, and even a bit of rhyming copy. She caught my attention with the outstandingly clever title, but she held it with skillful writing. Plus, I'm a sucker for creative endpapers. These feature the text of the Declaration of Independence.


Bonus:
Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library,
written by Barb Rosenstock,
illustrated by John O'Brien
1. You may still have time to visit with the author at Monticello. Take the tour of this historical home. The book launch set for February 15 was delayed because of the continued inclement weather. But Maira's original illustrations are on display. The rescheduled  book signing is TBA.
2. You can read Kristen Larson's PPBF review of Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library by Barb Rosenstock. It makes a great companion book.
3. To see a detailed account of this book's contents, view the thorough video summary by Liz's Book Snuggery.
4. AllRecipes provides a tempting fig cake recipe, which Jefferson was reportedly fond of eating.
5. According to the book, Jefferson had a passion for growing vegetables, especially peas. Grow your own pea plants with this amazingly fun, kid-tested, photographic tutorial from igardendaily.
6. Thomas Jefferson was full of new ideas. Inventivekids is a great website for the creative kids in your life.
7. SocialStudiesForKids lists links to most facets of Thomas Jefferson's life and career.


Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for February 28, 2014, available on Susanna Leonard Hill's excellent blog.

20 comments:

  1. Maira reminds us of the power of color, again!

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    1. I wish I were as bold as she is. Certainly something to aspire to.

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  2. Thanks for all the wonderful links! It's great to hear about non-fiction that isn't too "sugar-coated" and can provoke interesting discussion.

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    1. I could have listed several more bonus ideas, but ran out of time. I'm glad you liked them. Thanks.

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  3. It sounds like the author packed a lot into 40 pages! I agree that the title makes me want to read this. Adding to this week's list!

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    1. I was wowed by the entertaining way she presented the facts. Let me know what you think.

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  4. I haven't seen this book. It sounds great. Thanks for telling me about it. I have read Barb Rosenstock's book. It is very good.

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    1. I think I preferred Jefferson's Library, but Pursuit was very refreshing in its approach to the subject. I hope you get a chance to read it. Thanks.

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  5. I just saw this on our library shelf - definitely going to read it. I love TJ - especially his "pursuit of everything" lifestyle.

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    1. I really do wonder how he fit it all into one lifetime. I could use some of those organizational skills. Thanks for your comments.

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  6. Sounds like a wonderful book packed with information and lovely illustrations. Love the cover. I love books like this.

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    1. Maira's art isn't my usual style, but she does a masterful job in this book.

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  7. I love the opening sentences! It gives the book an accessible and engaging quality on what might otherwise be a "serious" biographical read.
    Thanks for popping by my PPBF post too!

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    1. Accessible is the perfect word to describe this book. And thanks for returning the favor!

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  8. I love Maira's books. She offers such an interesting perspective on so many of our national icons.

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    1. I'm still looking for her book on Lincoln. More so now that I''ve read this! Thanks for stopping by.

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  9. I'm still waiting for this book. Looking forward to reading it.

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    1. I was surprised my little library had it so quickly. Thanks for reading my review.

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  10. Mr Jefferson and Ms Kalman. What a winning combination!

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    1. Thanks for visiting my site. I have to catch up on yours.

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Thank-you for taking time to share your thoughts!