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THE QUITE CONTRARY MAN by Patricia Rusch Hyatt


A True American Tale

by Patricia Rusch Hyatt & illustrated by Kathryn Brown

Age Range: 6 - 9

Pub Date: May 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8109-4065-9
Publisher: Abrams

What shall we do with the contrary man? Joseph Palmer's long golden beard is the pride of his family and the bane of the small Massachusetts town where he lives. It flows all the way down to his belly and "from elbow to elbow," earning him the nickname Beard. But people jeer, calling him "Un-American!" One day, four men with scissors try to ambush Beard, but he fights them off. Then these men have the nerve to go to court and blame Beard for attacking them. The judge issues a $10 fine, and, when Beard refuses to pay it, they put him in jail for a year. Beard's tearful family visits him every day, and he complains about the conditions in letters to the editor. When Beard's year in jail ends, he again refuses to pay his fine. The frustrated sheriff and jailer come up with a unique solution, one that's sure to surprise readers as much as Beard. It's based on a true story; Hyatt includes a generous historical note. The compression demanded by the picture-book form is felt in Hyatt's prose, but she cleanly lays out a morality tale that could prompt a healthy civics lesson. Brown's arch illustrations, in watercolor with pen and ink, nicely capture 19th-century New England. This will do until a full Beard Palmer YA novel comes along. (Picture book. 6-9)