Farmer George Plants a Nation

Overview

See George Washington as he's rarely seen—as a farmer, inventor, and scientist. All his life, Washington sought to improve farming methods and share his knowledge with other farmers. His goal to make Mount Vernon self-sufficient carried over to his goal to make the new country independent.

« “Should be included in library collections because of its unusual treatment of George's lifetime achievements.” —Library Media Connection, starred review

« “Students will find this title ...

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Overview

See George Washington as he's rarely seen—as a farmer, inventor, and scientist. All his life, Washington sought to improve farming methods and share his knowledge with other farmers. His goal to make Mount Vernon self-sufficient carried over to his goal to make the new country independent.

« “Should be included in library collections because of its unusual treatment of George's lifetime achievements.” —Library Media Connection, starred review

« “Students will find this title useful for reports, but will also find it a great nonfiction read.” —School Library Journal, starred review

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Thomas (Joshua the Giant Frog) and Johnson (Remembering Grandpa) depict George Washington as a forward-thinking farmer dedicated to making Mount Vernon a self-sufficient, profitable plantation. Emphasizing Washington's innovative thinking and experimentation, the narrative explains how he invented a plow to streamline the planting of crops, rotated his crops and tested different fertilizers, bred donkeys and horses to create strong mules and designed a treading barn with 16 sides. Quotes from Washington's diaries and letters, presented in script outside the main text, demonstrate his devotion to improving his farm and lend credence to the author's assertion that "George's thoughts were never far from home," even during the Revolution and his presidency. Thomas's history is extremely detailed, full of facts that bring the 18th-century farm to life. She also addresses the obvious paradox: she concludes her work by praising Washington for "plant[ing] the seed of freedom on the battlefield," then explores his role as the owner of slaves in an endnote. Johnson's representational paintings, all of them flattering, incorporate symbols like bald eagles but also illuminate the workings of the plantation; a cutaway view of the 16-sided barn is especially helpful. A useful look at a lesser-known aspect of Washington's achievements. Ages 8-up. (Feb.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Sylvia Firth
Most schoolchildren are aware that George Washington was both the first President of the United States and a general in the Revolutionary War. Few, however, know about his great love of farming and that he invented a new kind of plough that, in one operation, planted and covered the seeds. Additionally, he experimented with rotating crops and creating different types of fertilizers. Even while Washington led the Continental Army, his beloved Mount Vernon was never far from his thoughts. He wrote long letters home containing instructions for operating the plantation. After the war, Washington gladly returned to running Mount Vernon and continued to try new ways of growing crops. He even bred horses and donkeys to produce strong and hardy mules that were better suited for farm work than oxen or horses. While President, he designed a unique barn for Mount Vernon. It was two stories high, had sixteen sides and contained 30,820 bricks. All his life, Washington continued learning and sharing with other farmers as he believed that successful farmers were very important for the new nation. The splendid, richly-colored oil paintings, often double-page spreads, harmonize well with the text and make the book truly beautiful. Quotes from Washington's diary and letters are found throughout and clearly bring out his character as well as his devotion to his home and the land. The endpapers are a reproduction of a map of Mount Vernon drawn by Washington. This is truly an outstanding book that will interest both children and adults. It belongs in every collection. Reviewer: Sylvia Firth
School Library Journal

Gr 3-6- This picture-book biography focuses on George Washington's life as a farmer, inventor, and scientist; however, the author also draws many parallels between his role as farmer and as leader. Washington's goal to make his estate self-sufficient carries over to his goal to make the new country independent. Thomas's enthusiasm for her subject is evident in her storytelling-style text. She not only used primary sources in her research, but also included several quotes from Washington's diaries and letters. These quotes are written in large script and inserted appropriately within the text. Johnson's oil paintings support the text while adding a feel of the 18th century. The balanced placement allows both the art and narrative to shine. The author includes useful back matter on visiting Mt. Vernon and an especially enlightening note on "George's Thoughts on Slavery." Endpapers show a map of Mt. Vernon taken from a drawing transmitted by General Washington. Students will find this title useful for reports, but will also find it a great nonfiction read.-Carolyn Janssen, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH

Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A pleasing new picture book looks at George Washington's career through an agricultural lens. Sprinkling excerpts from his letters and diaries throughout to allow its subject to speak in his own voice, the narrative makes a convincing case for Washington's place as the nation's First Farmer. His innovations, in addition to applying the scientific method to compost, include a combination plow-tiller-harrow, the popularization of the mule and a two-level barn that put horses to work at threshing grain in any weather. Thomas integrates Washington's military and political adventures into her account, making clear that it was his frustration as a farmer that caused him to join the revolutionary cause. Lane's oil illustrations, while sometimes stiff, appropriately portray a man who was happiest when working the land. Backmatter includes a timeline, author's notes on both Mount Vernon and Washington the slaveholder, resources for further exploration and a bibliography. (Picture book/biography. 8-12)
From the Publisher

"Sprinkling excerpts from his letters and diaries throughout to allow its subject to speak in his own voice, the narrative makes a convincing case for Washington's place as the nation's First Farmer. . . . Backmatter includes a timeline, author's notes on both Mount Vernon and Washington the slaveholder, resources for further exploration and a bibliography." --Kirkus Reviews

* "Students will find this title useful for reports, but will also find it a great nonfiction read." --School Library Journal, starred review

* "Exquisite artwork. . . . Should be included in library collections because of its unusual treatment of George's lifetime achievements." --Library Media Connection, starred review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781620910290
  • Publisher: Boyds Mills Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 468,221
  • Age range: 9 - 11 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.80 (w) x 9.80 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Peggy Thomas is the author of more than a dozen books for children and young adults including the award-winning picture book For the Birds: The Life of Roger Tory Peterson. Thomas is also an instructor for the Institute of Children’s Literature and a frequent speaker at schools and conferences. She lives in Middleport, New York.

Layne Johnson has illustrated more than twenty books for children, including the Western Heritage Award--winning Off Like the Wind!: The First Ride of the Pony Express by Michael P. Spradlin. Mr. Johnson speaks frequently in schools and libraries. He lives in Houston, Texas, with his wife.

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