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Those Rebels, John and Tom

Those Rebels, John and Tom

by Barbara Kerley, Edwin Fotheringham (Illustrator)

A brilliant portrait of two American heroes from the award-winning creators of The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy)!

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were very different.

John Adams was short and stout.
Thomas Jefferson was tall and lean.

John was argumentative and blunt.
Tom was soft-spoken and polite.

John sometimes got along with almost


A brilliant portrait of two American heroes from the award-winning creators of The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy)!

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were very different.

John Adams was short and stout.
Thomas Jefferson was tall and lean.

John was argumentative and blunt.
Tom was soft-spoken and polite.

John sometimes got along with almost no one.
Tom got along with just about everyone.

But these two very different gentlemen did have two things in common: They both cared deeply about the American colonies, and neither cared much for the British tyrant, King George.

With their signature wit, impeccable research, and inventive presentation style, award winners Barbara Kerley and Edwin Fotheringham masterfully blend biography and history to create a brilliant portrait of two American heroes who bravely set aside their differences to join forces in the fight for our country’s freedom.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Kerley and Fotheringham, the team behind The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy), cleverly contrast two diverse founding fathers and early presidents, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Entertaining verse and droll illustrations parlay their differences and similarities into a lens through which to view the start of the American Revolution. Initial spreads draw distinctions between lively extrovert John and refined statesman Tom, using parallel contexts. “When wasn’t in the courtroom, he planted corn, pruned fruit trees, and chased his chickens and ducks.... When wasn’t in the courtroom, he maintained his accounts, surveyed his lands, and dined on chicken and duck.” A playful tone also is reflected in the typeface, with certain phrases enlarged for shout-out emphasis, and in the caricatured artwork. Skillfully rendered and decidedly modern in a patriotic palette of red, white, blue, and brown, the digitally created scenes mirror and enhance the text’s wit (in one illustration, Tom uses a quill pen to spatter an image of King George with ink). A witty and wise portrait of strength being born out of difference. Agent: Writers House. Illustrator’s agent: Pat Hackett. Ages 7�11. (Jan.)
From the Publisher

What To Do About Alice?

A Robert F. Sibert Honor Book

A Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Book

A Parents’ Choice Award Winner
Texas Bluebonnet Award Masterlist

“Kerley reveals the essence of Alice in an upbeat account of her life.” — The New York Times

*“Spectacular art.” — Booklist, starred review

*“A gleeful celebration of a fully, unapologetically led life.” — Kirkus Reviews, starred review

The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy)

A PW Best Book of the Year
A Kirkus Best Book of the Year
A New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing
California Reading Association Eureka! Gold Award Winner
A School Library Journal Best Book
A Washington Post Best Book for Young Readers

Oppenheim Portfolio Gold Award
*“A masterfully perceptive and largely visual biography . . . dynamic and lovely . . . a joy to peruse.” — School Library Journal, starred review.

“A great new book.” — The New York Times

*“An accessible and inventive vision of an American legend.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

Children's Literature - Emily Griffin
Founding fathers John Adams and Thomas Jefferson may have had many differences, but their passion for the future of America was stronger. United, they were instrumental in shaping the debate for independence from England and King George. Kerley and Fotheringham, the team behind the acclaimed picture book biographies What To Do About Alice? and The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susie), tackle the personal and professional lives of Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson through the lens of their unexpected friendship. Beginning from childhood, their differences in upbringing and personality are obvious—John was short, stout, and loud while Tom was tall, lean, and quiet. As grown men, their lives did follow similar paths even with their differences: both became lawyers and were both publicly opposed to King George, whom they called a tyrant, and both joined the Continental College as delegates (John from Massachusetts and Tom from Virginia). Kerley tells the story of these two friends who combined forces and methods to lead a struggling congress and gain the support of the colonies to declare independence from England. Fotheringham's illustrations add so much story, detail, and energy to an already strong text. An author's note shares details about John and Tom's friendship and the coincidence of them both dying on July 4, 1826. An excellent addition to any collection. Reviewer: Emily Griffin
School Library Journal
Gr 2�4—Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were different in looks and temperament, but they shared a devotion to their country. Concentrating on the years 1774�1776, Kerley shows how these two opposite personalities came together to help the Continental Congress reach consensus and produce the Declaration of Independence. More narrowly focused and written for a slightly older audience than Suzanne Tripp Jurmain's excellent Worst of Friends (Dutton, 2011), Those Rebels goes into detail about both men's roles in developing the document. Their presidential years are summarized in an author's note. Well-referenced quotations are incorporated into the text, bringing history to life in a forthright and dynamic manner. The large-scale illustrations are rendered in digital media in a caricature style that suggests political cartoons. Red, white, and blue are the primary colors used, with mustard yellow added for contrast. The endpapers and jacket flaps are cleverly designed with silhouettes to emphasize the physical contrast between the two men. The cover calls to mind Willard's painting The Spirit of '76, with Jefferson bearing an enormous quill rather than a fife or drum. This book succeeds in illuminating a crucial point in American history using an authoritative yet child-friendly approach.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA
Kirkus Reviews
A graceful and good-humored account introduces the very human sides of the disparate duo who came together in the Continental Congress to give birth to American independence in an extraordinary achievement in 1774-1776. Kerley makes the essential points about Jefferson and Adams: Though different from birth--humble roots for athletic John, an aristocratic upbringing for intellectual Tom--both were committed to the American colonies. Light-hearted, kinetic illustrations emphasize their dissimilar styles, with Adams' love of a good verbal argument and Jefferson's devotion to the pen almost comically contrasting. A predominance of blue, red, white and gold sets off cameo-style portraits mixed with cartoon drawings to strike just the right notes. Use of a generous trim size and a classically styled typeface with enlarged, bolded phrases recalls the emphatic design in the printing of revolutionary broadsides. Jefferson's slave ownership is acknowledged in several places: His efforts to include a clause condemning slavery in his declaration is mentioned; in one illustration, John wheels a barrow of fertilizer at his Braintree farm, and Tom sits thinking astride his horse at Monticello while black men in slave clothing labor in the background. A densely packed author's note tells the rest of the story about Adams and Jefferson--that their friendship had a gap of 11 years, but their July 4th, 1826 deaths were within hours of each other, each with the other in mind. Humorous, respectful and affectionate: a solid invitation to learn more. (author's note, facsimile of Declaration, quotation source notes) (Informational picture book. 9-12)
Pamela Paul
Fotheringham's cartoonish drawings hold a retro Schoolhouse Rock appeal in this rousing account of the friendship before the feud.
—The New York Times Book Review

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.88(w) x 12.26(h) x 0.40(d)
960L (what's this?)
Age Range:
7 - 10 Years

Meet the Author

Barbara Kerley's award-winning biographies—including WHAT TO DO ABOUT ALICE? and THE EXTRAORDINARY MARK TWAIN (ACCORDING TO SUSY), both illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham, and THE DINOSAURS OF WATERHOUSE HAWKINS and WALT WHITMAN: WORDS FOR AMERICA, both illustrated by Brian Selznick—are consistently praised for their lively prose, meticulous research, and artistic presentation style. Kerley lives in Portland, Oregon. You can visit her online at www.barbarakerley.com.

Edwin Fotheringham has illustrated several notable picture books, including Barbara Kerley's WHAT TO DO ABOUT ALICE?, a Sibert Honor Book and a Boston Globe/Horn Book Award Honor Book, and THE EXTRAORDINARY MARK TWAIN (ACCORDING TO SUSY), a New York Public Library Best Children's Book. Edwin lives in Seattle, Washington. You can visit him online at www.edfotheringham.com.

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