Thomas Jefferson

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Overview

In her sixth presidential biography for National Geographic, Cheryl Harness illuminates the many sides of Thomas Jefferson: scientist, lawyer, farmer, architect, diplomat, inventor, musician, philosopher, author of the Declaration of Independence, founder of the University of Virginia, and third president of the United States. Readers meet this extraordinary man of contradictions: a genius who proclaimed that "All men are created equal" and championed the rights of "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness," ...
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Overview

In her sixth presidential biography for National Geographic, Cheryl Harness illuminates the many sides of Thomas Jefferson: scientist, lawyer, farmer, architect, diplomat, inventor, musician, philosopher, author of the Declaration of Independence, founder of the University of Virginia, and third president of the United States. Readers meet this extraordinary man of contradictions: a genius who proclaimed that "All men are created equal" and championed the rights of "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness," while at the same time living a life that depended on the enforced labor of slaves.

Readers experience an eventful life lived largely in public service, yet also enjoy the personal warmth of this fascinating historical figure. The narrative examines the crucial role that the "sage of Monticello" played in shaping the ideals of freedom and self-government, which became the cornerstones of American democracy. The author's conversational storytelling, her richly detailed illustrations, and use of period maps bring to life the exciting times of Thomas Jefferson on every page. This appealing and insightful biography is an honest, well-balanced portrait of a complex and controversial American legend.

National Geographic supports K-12 educators with ELA Common Core Resources.
Visit www.natgeoed.org/commoncore for more information. 

Examines the life and times of the multifaceted man who wrote the Declaration of Independence and later became the third president of the United States.

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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
A lively biography that deals as forthrightly with Jefferson's personal life (from his pleasure in his fiddle and garden to his loneliness in the "splendid misery" of the White House) as with his political legacy (from his radical invocation of equality to his wavering on slavery). — Elizabeth Ward
Children's Literature
In this excellent biography, Harness displays two remarkable gifts—she recounts the excitement and drama of historical events in prose that reads like a good novel; and she illustrates those events with lively paintings that somehow capture both the energy of action and effort and the subtle nuances of facial expression. The design and layout of this book are equally vibrant. The pages are lightly colored beneath the text and illustrations, suggesting the look of old parchment. The illustrations are varied in size, placement and format, with some showing a montage of scenes moving across a full, two-page spread and some containing framed insets of related material. Finally, Harness does an admirable job of addressing the contradictions in Jefferson's life without downplaying or negating his great achievements. One would be hard-pressed to find a book for young readers that so vividly and successfully captures the remarkable life of this remarkable man. This book is the sixth in a series of biographies that Harness has written for National Geographic. 2004, National Geographic Society, Ages 5 to 10.
—Barbara Carroll Roberts
Library Journal
Gr 3-6-In a note at the beginning of this attractive, accessible biography, Harness deals in an objective and nonjudgmental fashion with the most controversial aspects of Jefferson's life-his assertion that "all Men are created equal" while keeping slaves, and his relationship with Sally Hemings. The book then proceeds in a lively, nicely paced style to examine the many facets of the man's life, which included "Scientist, Lawyer, Farmer, Architect, Diplomat, Inventor, Musician, Philosopher, and third President of the United States." The text is peppered with numerous quotes from Jefferson. Bright and busy mixed-media illustrations range from a full-page framed spread to small inserts, and are an appropriate match for the energetic text. This is a solid addition to the biography shelf and a first purchase for most collections.-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Thomas Jefferson was a "man of contradictions," an eloquent champion of freedom and equality, yet a slaveholder who fathered several children with Sally Hemings, a slave and half-sister to Martha Jefferson. As with several good recent biographies, this volume presents Jefferson as a man of his times who helped to "light the torch" for freedom and self-government yet was entrenched in the racism of the age. This handsome text effectively portrays Jefferson the man, but slights the political context that shaped his career. The illustrations-watercolor, gouache, ink, and colored pencil-show Harness at her best, portraying not an icon, but a man immersed in the hubbub of family and political life. Diagrams of Monticello and maps of colonial America, the Lewis and Clark expedition, and President Jefferson's world enrich the text. Only the bibliography is a disappointment, including none of the other solid biographies of Jefferson for young readers. A good match with Fradin's Who Was Thomas Jefferson? (2003) (author's note) (Nonfiction. 8-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426300431
  • Publisher: National Geographic Society
  • Publication date: 1/9/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 334,501
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.57 (w) x 10.88 (h) x 0.14 (d)

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  • Posted February 24, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Thomas Jefferson Revealed!

    This is a good picture book biography of Thomas Jefferson for the classroom. It is intended for grades 4-7 I believe but there is information for adults to be had here too. Thomas Jefferson's life from birth to death is covered and yes, there is mention of Sally Hemmings and his possible 6 children with her. Some mentions in the book don't gel quite right because with modern sensibilities, the idea that Jefferson could state that "all men are created equal" and still have slaves doesn't seem logical but Jefferson didn't live in our times, but in his. Slavery allowed him to live a luxurious lifestyle and do many of the things an educated gentleman might do at the time. Without slaves, his quality of life would have suffered and he knew it. Still this book does provide terrific details of his life and gives us a portrait of how he lived.

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