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by Cheryl Harness & illustrated by Cheryl Harness

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-7922-6970-5
Publisher: National Geographic

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)