The Books

Thomas Jefferson

by Maira Kalman

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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