The Books

Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything

by Maira Kalman

Hardcover, 40 pages

Published by Nancy Paulsen Books (2014-01-07)

List Price: $17.99

Actual Price: $17.09

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Amazon Description

Renowned artist Maira Kalman sheds light on the fascinating life and interests of the Renaissance man who was our third president.

Thomas Jefferson is perhaps best known for writing the Declaration of Independence—but there’s so much more to discover. This energetic man was interested in everything. He played violin, spoke seven languages and was a scientist, naturalist, botanist, mathematician and architect. He designed his magnificent home, Monticello, which is full of objects he collected from around the world. Our first foodie, he grew over fifteen kinds of peas and advocated a mostly vegetarian diet. And oh yes, as our third president, he doubled the size of the United States and sent Lewis and Clark to explore it. He also started the Library of Congress and said, “I cannot live without books.” But monumental figures can have monumental flaws, and Jefferson was no exception. Although he called slavery an “abomination,” he owned about 150 slaves.

As she did in Looking at Lincoln, Maira Kalman shares a president’s remarkable, complicated life with young readers, making history come alive with her captivating text and stunning illustrations.

One Potato Review

“He loved books,” begins Kalman, apparently touring Monticello with her omnivorous brushes and capitalizing compulsions. “He read about Shrews and Screws and Shoes and Bees and Cheese and how to say Please in French, Spanish, Latin, Greek, Italian, German and English of course. (He was quite polite).” And while a little of what follows may feel blurrily familiar from long-ago curriculums, Kalman hits even the usual landmarks like she is trying to wake us up – Monticello means little mountain in Italian, George Washington’s teeth were made of ivory and wires (not wood) “and hurt him so,” Jefferson was a terrible speaker, Lewis Meriwether had a pointy nose – or, better, make sure that we never fall asleep in the first place.

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