65. Who Was Thomas Jefferson?

Who Was Thomas Jefferson? by Dennis Brindell Fradin
Illustrated by John O'Brien

Pages: 103
Ages: 8+
Finished: Mar. 25, 2009
First Published: 2003
Genre: children, biography
Rating: 3/5

Reason for Reading: Read aloud to my 8yo as part of our curriculum.

First sentence:

Thomas Jefferson is pictured on U.S. nickels.

Comments: A quite detailed biography of the third President of the USA for children. Large type with a space and a half between lines makes reading easier on the eyes of young readers. Many comic-type illustrations on virtually every page along with illustrations that are labeled and drawn maps. The book is very even-handed, on the one side siting Jefferson's accomplishments as a great American while on the other keeping in mind he was a slave owner and had his own family of children from a slave woman. The book also does not presume the reader is an American which certainly makes the book reader friendly to non-Americans. So many books about the US use the words "our" and "here" as if everyone in the world was an American and thus causing us foreigners to edit on the fly as reading aloud. The book ends with Jefferson's signature, a page of his famous quotes, a bibliography and finally a two-page spread timeline of his life.

A very readable and enjoyable book. Written in a narrative voice the book is very entertaining. It does have a bit too many names and dates which become monotonous after a while, but it is no means saturated with them and dates are easily skipped over. Appropriate for ages 9 and up to read themselves while younger will still enjoy the book read aloud, though I recommend skimming over some of the political details which can become tedious at times. I enjoyed that Jefferson's political life and role in the creating of the Declaration of Independence is a focal point in the middle of the book but by no means is the focus of the entire book. Just as much attention is given to his boyhood and young manhood as well as his post presidency and old age. An all-around suitable book on the topic and most children should find it satisfying.


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