In her signature style, Harness (Remember the Ladies, 2001, etc.) joins the contemporary effort to bring John Adams to his rightful place in history. “The United States is a proper, living monument to intense, cranky, warm, heart-on-his-sleeve John Adams—America’s champion.” George Washington was the first president and father of our country and Thomas Jefferson the author of our essential political manifesto, but John Adams was “the champion of its government.” Adams was the one who led Congress through its turbulent early days from revolution to nationhood. He was an ardent believer in the machinery of government created by the founders. Harness takes readers through the essential people and events of Adams’s life and focuses on his role in keeping the revolution going, writing the Declaration of Independence, and keeping the army functioning throughout the war. Adams, John Jay, and Ben Franklin negotiated the peace treaties that officially ended the war in 1783. And as the second president, Adams managed to keep the young country out of war with England and France, thus preserving its independence. This handsome volume has 53 full-color illustrations, maps, and excerpts from Adams’s letters. The text manages to relay the details of Adams’s life while emphasizing what is essential about his legacy. Back matter indicates that the liberal quotes throughout come from letters, diaries, and papers—but whose? Who knew about the conversation between Adams and his father as they discussed his being a farmer? And who knew that he had “a stomach full of butterflies” as he rode off to Harvard? The solid information and lively format will make this a boon to report writers and a must for library collections, but the skimpy bibliography will not be useful to young researchers. (author’s note) (Picture book/biography. 8-12)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-7922-6970-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2002

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For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

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A multiaward–winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.

Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is “a country caught / / between Black and White.” But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father’s people in Ohio and her mother’s people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah’s Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe’s Stevie and Langston Hughes’ poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that “[W]ords are my brilliance.” Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25251-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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A pleasing new picture book looks at George Washington’s career through an agricultural lens. Sprinkling excerpts from his letters and diaries throughout to allow its subject to speak in his own voice, the narrative makes a convincing case for Washington’s place as the nation’s First Farmer. His innovations, in addition to applying the scientific method to compost, include a combination plow-tiller-harrow, the popularization of the mule and a two-level barn that put horses to work at threshing grain in any weather. Thomas integrates Washington’s military and political adventures into her account, making clear that it was his frustration as a farmer that caused him to join the revolutionary cause. Lane’s oil illustrations, while sometimes stiff, appropriately portray a man who was happiest when working the land. Backmatter includes a timeline, author’s notes on both Mount Vernon and Washington the slaveholder, resources for further exploration and a bibliography. (Picture book/biography. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-59078-460-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2008

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