Parents' Guide to

Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything

By Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 6+

Lively, frank portrait of Jefferson, flaws and all.

Book Maira Kalman History 2014
Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything Poster Image

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What you will—and won't—find in this book.

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This is a lively, fascinating account of the great man's life and accomplishments that's packed with fun facts and poignant asides by author-illustrator Maira Kalman. Readers can feel her excitement as she presents amusing details and sense her confusion and sorrow as she wonders how Jefferson could have enslaved people when he decried slavery. "The monumental man had monumental flaws," she writes.

But Kalman clearly wants to give him a break. When reporting that he would visit the kitchen each week and wind the grandfather clock on a page where she shows the enslaved kitchen staff hard at work, she adds, "He probably said a few kind words to the cooks." On the facing page detailing the many kinds of pudding served at Monticello -- "all produced by the endless labor of slaves" -- she editorializes, "Jefferson may have been a kind master, but it was still a horror."

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