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
Farmer George Plants a Nationby Peggy Thomas, Layne Johnson
George Washington as he's rarely seen. Besides being a general and the first president of the United States, George Washington was also a farmer. His efforts to create a self-sufficient farm at Mount Vernon, Virginia, mirrored his struggle to form a new nation. Excerpts from Washington's writings are featured throughout this NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science Trade Book
George Washington as he's rarely seen. Besides being a general and the first president of the United States, George Washington was also a farmer. His efforts to create a self-sufficient farm at Mount Vernon, Virginia, mirrored his struggle to form a new nation. Excerpts from Washington's writings are featured throughout this NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science Trade Book, which also includes a timeline, resource section, as well as essays on Washington at Mount Vernon and his thoughts on slavery. Both illustrator and author worked closely with the staff of Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens to render an accurate portrait of Farmer George at work.
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, OHCopyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
"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
Meet the Author
Peggy Thomas is the author of more than a dozen books for children and young adults, including Joshua the Giant Frog, a tall tale about the Erie Canal. Ms. Thomas is a frequent speaker in schools and libraries. She lives in Middleport, New York.
Layne Johnson has illustrated many acclaimed picture books for children, including Remembering Grandpa by Uma Krishnaswami. He lives in Houston, Texas.
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