Revolutionary Friends: General George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette

Revolutionary Friends: General George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette

by Selene Castrovilla, Drazen Kozjan

In this riveting story about an important friendship, Selene Castrovilla introduces young readers to the tender side of George Washington when he meets the youthful Marquis de Lafayette during the Revolutionary War. Lafayette has come to America to offer his services to the patriotic cause. Inexperienced but dedicated, he is a much-needed ally and not only earns a…  See more details below


In this riveting story about an important friendship, Selene Castrovilla introduces young readers to the tender side of George Washington when he meets the youthful Marquis de Lafayette during the Revolutionary War. Lafayette has come to America to offer his services to the patriotic cause. Inexperienced but dedicated, he is a much-needed ally and not only earns a military position with the Continental Army but also Washington’s respect and admiration. This lively picture book presents the human side of history, revealing the bond between two famous Revolutionary figures. Both the author and illustrator worked with experts and primary sources to represent both patriots and the war accurately and fairly.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The bond between two Revolutionary War heroes is the subject of this picture-book history from Castrovilla (By the Sword). The Marquis de Lafayette “adored America. And because Washington represented America, Lafayette idolized him.” The cartoon-styled illustrations are notable for their animated facial expressions; Kozjan (Working Mummies) renders the “scrawny and young—and inexperienced” Marquis as ever eager, eyes wide as he “gawked in admiration” at Washington. The spreads also feature small scrolls with quotes from the French nobleman, while words and phrases in his native language punctuate the text (“Lafayette wanted a command. Burning to prove himself, he nagged Washington and Congress. S’il vous plaît!”). The narrative comes to an abrupt end when Lafayette is injured in battle, and Washington declares fatherly affection for his wounded friend; a text-heavy afterword continues the duo’s tale up through Washington’s death. Detailed timelines for both men’s lives, a list of historical sites, an extensive bibliography, and a glossary of French phrases wrap up this look at an intense friendship that proved beneficial to both men and their countries’ fledgling democracies. Ages 8–up. Illustrator’s agent: Pippin Properies. (Apr.)¦
From the Publisher

". . . This oversize, handsome package will introduce a little-known aspect of the Revolutionary War history through pithy words and often dramatic pictures. It respects its audience as well as the historically significant friendship it portrays."--Booklist, starred review
Children's Literature - Susan Treadway
Based on primary documents about Lafayette and Washington, their remarkable friendship is richly documented in story book form utilizing resources of experts in the field. Notable dates are given separately for these top leaders as a quick biography, although a list of French phrases used throughout this account is explained in the back. Colored pen and ink illustrations accompany real time text that chronicles the arduous journey of nineteen-year-old Marquis de Lafayette who finally made it to war torn America. General George Washington's interest in such a young Frenchman went beyond initial expectations of them both. Their subsequent interactions, possible conversations, and thus a tremendous bond created a lasting alliance between America and France at a critical time when the British threatened to overtake General Washington's forces. Lafayette was even granted a command during the Battle of Brandywine in spite of initial doubts. Despite the Americans losing that particular battle, Lafayette's powerful leadership carried beleaguered troops across twelve rugged miles to safety. When "a ball passed through his leg," Washington gave the order that he be treated "as if he were my son." Although the picture book narration ends there, more serious historians are given a look beyond the war with additional pages detailing heartfelt letters, Lafayette's involvement in the French Revolution, and related aspects. The book concludes with places to visit, a lengthy bibliography, and official portraits which hang beside the Speaker's rostrum in the U.S. House of Representatives. Youngsters therefore glean both personal and military insights into America's growing pains as a new, powerful nation. Reviewer: Susan Treadway
School Library Journal
Gr 3–5—The Marquis de Lafayette is famous for helping George Washington and the Continental Army defeat the British. The idea of exploring the development of his relationship with the American general in picture-book form is intriguing, but while this version is long on historical content, it is short on flair. The research is admirable. Direct quotations from Lafayette are featured on almost every page, and lists of sources and places to visit, as well as time lines of the men's lives, provide excellent historical background. However, these figures do not come to life. The author concentrates on Lafayette arriving in America, becoming part of Washington's army, and proving his mettle at the Battle of Brandywine. The large illustrations end when Washington visits the wounded Lafayette and instructs the doctor to care for him "as if he were my son," demonstrating the real affection that developed between them. However, the account goes on for three more pages, illustrated by much smaller images. The awkward transition complicates the book's ability to find an audience. Younger readers who are drawn to the picture-book format may lose interest in the text-heavy later part, while older students studying the Revolutionary War may find the book too simplistic for their needs. The pen-and-ink illustrations with digital coloring are appealing for the most part, but they have an odd flatness that detracts from their overall effect. Spreads that should have depth and a vanishing point seem more one-dimensional than two. French phrases incorporated into the text are defined at the end of the book, not in context, which may be cumbersome for some readers.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA
Kirkus Reviews
This effort to illuminate and explicate the affectionate relationship between George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette, as well as its impact on United States history, is enthusiastic but perhaps ambitious for the format. The body of the work is presented as an illustrated narrative with interjections expressing Lafayette's point of view; focusing on a short period of time, it is relatively straightforward. Moved by news of the American Revolution, the young Marquis slips out of France at the age of 19 and sails to the New World to offer his services to Washington's army. Only tolerated at first (because earlier émigrés had not left a positive impression), Lafayette shows his mettle in the battle of Brandywine and forges a lifelong personal bond with the general he so admires. Castrovilla writes in a heightened, emotive voice punctuated by exclamations in French. Extensive backmatter provides additional details including, among other things, a description of the continuing connection between the two men, chronological outlines of their lives, a list of French phrases found in the text, a bibliography and a list of relevant historical sites. Kozjan's illustrations, pen and ink with digital color, reflect the action of the text effectively for the most part, though awkwardly drawn figures, both human and animal, and odd expressions distract in some cases. Of potential interest as curriculum support, this treatment requires advanced reading skills (or a grown-up) and a basic understanding of the historical context. (Informational picture book. 9-12)

Product Details

Highlights Press
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.90(w) x 11.20(h) x 0.40(d)
620L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 Years

Meet the Author

Selene Castrovilla has written about the American Revolution before in By the Sword and Upon Secrecy, both published by Calkins Creek. By the Sword was named an IRA Notable Book and a Moonbeam Children’s Book Award Gold Medalist for Nonfiction. Upon Secrecy was named a Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of the Year. Ms. Castrovilla lives on Long Island with her two sons. You can read more about her at

Drazen Kozjan traveled to the site of the Battle of Brandywine and Philadelphia to research Revolutionary Friends. He is an illustrator and animator who helped to develop, design, and storyboard numerous successful cartoons including The Neverending Story, Rupert the Bear, Franklin the Turtle, and George Shrinks, among many others. He is also the illustrator of Diary of A Fairy Godmother by Esme Raji Codell and the Julia Gillian series by Alison McGhee. He lives in Toronto, Ontario. Visit him at

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