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Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library

Overview


As soon as Thomas Jefferson learned to read, he found his passion: books, books, and more books! Before, during, and after the American Revolution, Jefferson collected thousands of books on hundreds of subjects. In fact, his massive collection eventually helped rebuild the Library of Congress—now the largest library in the world. Barb Rosenstock’s rhythmic words and John O’Brien’s whimsical illustrations capture Jefferson’s passion for the written word as well as little-known details about book collecting. ...
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Overview


As soon as Thomas Jefferson learned to read, he found his passion: books, books, and more books! Before, during, and after the American Revolution, Jefferson collected thousands of books on hundreds of subjects. In fact, his massive collection eventually helped rebuild the Library of Congress—now the largest library in the world. Barb Rosenstock’s rhythmic words and John O’Brien’s whimsical illustrations capture Jefferson’s passion for the written word as well as little-known details about book collecting. Author and artist worked closely with experts to create the first picture book on Jefferson’s love of reading, writing, and books. An author’s note, bibliography, and source notes for quotations are also included.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Thomas Jefferson “gobbled books the way a starving man eats.” Rosenstock’s (The Camping Trip That Changed America) apt metaphor sets the tone for this jaunty picture-book biography of the third U.S. president. Following Jefferson’s birth in 1743 to his restocking of the Library of Congress in 1815, the playful narrative (“While at college, he read fifteen hours a day. Guess what he started collecting?!”) complements even more playful illustrations. O’Brien’s (Look... Look Again!) dynamic ink-and-watercolor illustrations show the redheaded leader in perpetual motion around books, exaggerating his hobby to humorous effect. Jefferson stacks tomes on his mantel in the shape of the word “books” or reads several books at once by swinging from a trapeze. Pointillist dots overlay the artwork, texturing O’Brien’s pictures with a mottled look. Readers’ eyes will dart among several scenes in each spread, the busy layout giving a sense of Jefferson’s full education-driven life. Appearing on nearly every page are images of small, open books that provide further biographical facts and quotations. Author notes and a bibliography wrap up a lively peek at a literature-loving political giant. Ages 8–up. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

"This attractive picture book uses Thomas Jefferson's love of reading and collecting books as a lens through which to view the story of his life. . . An informative author's note rounds out this appealing introduction to Jefferson." --Booklist

"This unusual picture-book biography fosters a new understanding of Thomas Jefferson's life as viewed through his love of books and its impact on our burgeoning nation. . .Sure to be enjoyed, this is an engaging study of one of our Founding Father's great legacies." --Kirkus Reviews

"It is no small feat to entertain children in a book about loving books (an increasingly croweded shelf), but this duo succeeds admirably through well-chosen facts, staggering statistics, an interactive text, and humor. . . This is a unique portrayal of the life and passions of the third president." --School Library Journal

"Jefferson's well-documented obsession with books--reading, recommending, lending, gifting, and collecting--gets the picture-book treatment in this chatty biography that describes the journey of Jefferson's collection from private stash to the basis of the Library of Congress. . ." --Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Children's Literature - Beverley Fahey
Thomas Jefferson, writer of the Declaration of Independence and long regarded as a master with words, was fascinated with books and reading from childhood. He read plays, geographies, stories, poems, and prayers. He read when he walked and rode and played and even when he was supposed to be sleeping. Books fascinated him and as he read he collected. By the time he was a married man he built a special library in his home at Monticello and when his work took him to Europe he continued to collect and ship books home. While he was president he doubled the country's size and tripled his library. In his home he had a revolving bookstand so he could read five books at a time. His love of books and his desire to share them resulted in a donation of his books that helped to create the Library of Congress. This is an imaginative and creative way to present the life of Jefferson. Written with humor and attention to detail, the engaging text moves at a frenetic pace—much like Jefferson, as he pursued his passion for books. The layout is busy with details giving the reader much to peruse and enjoy. Whimsical ink and watercolor illustrations capture the frivolous boy reading on horseback, the serious young politician off in a corner at the Continental Congress with his nose in a book, the tender husband reading to his dying wife, and the generous benefactor. Insets that appear on almost every page resemble open books contain quotes of Jefferson's or additional biographical material. In an author's note there is an acknowledgement of Jefferson's position as a slaveholder. Whether kids love to read like Jefferson or need a gentle nudge to pick up a book, every reader will be fascinated and intrigued by this lively biography that deserves a place in every school and public library. Reviewer: Beverley Fahey
School Library Journal
Gr 1–5—It is no small feat to entertain children in a book about loving books (an increasingly crowded shelf), but this duo succeeds admirably through well-chosen facts, staggering statistics, an interactive text, and humor. Readers glimpse Jefferson's childhood, adolescence, fatherhood, and presidency through his obsession with reading. There is levity and energy in O'Brien's ink and watercolor scenes. Jefferson's horse has a book-shaped saddle; young Tom fiddles while reading the music from a book mounted to the bridle. There is also sadness, when Jefferson reads to his wife on her deathbed. The full-spread compositions are supplemented by insets shaped like open books that contain quotes by or about Jefferson and his times or interests. In one, a slave remembers that his master might have 20 books surrounding him on the floor. Another describes his revolving bookstand holding five volumes, so he "never needed to stop writing to read or stop reading to write." Rosenstock details the man's substantial and ongoing involvement in developing and contributing to the national library. The final scene shows Jefferson opening a large book portraying modern and Colonial visitors mingling at the Library of Congress; a minor disappointment is that O'Brien drew generic bookcases instead of the splendid reading room. An author's note adds more information, including context for the fact that the author of the Declaration of Independence owned about 600 enslaved individuals throughout his life. This is a unique portrayal of the life and passions of the third president.—Wendy Lukehart, District of Columbia Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
2013-08-15
This unusual picture-book biography fosters a new understanding of Thomas Jefferson's life as viewed through his love of books and its impact on our burgeoning nation. The opening quote from Jefferson sets the tone: "I cannot live without books." The narrative replicates the rhythm of a conversation as it provides numerous examples of his love of books. Clever spreads combine expansive full-bleed images and individual, framed pen-and-ink–and-watercolor illustrations, plus vignettes amplifying points made in the text. Throughout, fact boxes shaped like open books scattered across the pages supply additional details. A scholar from childhood, Jefferson devoured his father's library and then, at school, learned to read in several languages. He cultivated personal libraries covering many subjects while living at his parents' plantation and again at Monticello. Ultimately, this examination highlights Jefferson's role in ensuring that the Library of Congress held a viable collection: first as president, when he supported the Library of Congress, and later, when the collection was burned during the War of 1812, by offering his books to them. The piece closes on the fascinating note that the Library of Congress owns more than 155 million items and adds around 11,500 each day. An author's note provides further information, including a discussion of Jefferson as slaveholder. Sure to be enjoyed, this is an engaging study of one of our Founding Father's great legacies. (selected bibliography, source notes) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590789322
  • Publisher: Boyds Mills Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2013
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 194,909
  • Age range: 8 - 11 Years
  • Lexile: 830L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Barbara Rosenstock
Barb Rosenstock lives outside of Chicago, Illinois. This is her first picture book.

Scott Dawson lives in Wichita, Kansas. This is his first picture book.

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