Using Thomas Jefferson’s own admissions of passion for both his new country and agriculture, details are given about a few of his activities, inventions, and accomplishments, beginning after the Revolutionary War.
A muted, gouache image of a large-headed Jefferson plowing with the help of a large brown mule spans two early pages, under which is this text: “After planting the seed of freedom writing the Declaration of Independence, Thomas had something new to nurture. And like any farmer imagining the harvest of a newly tilled field, Thomas envisioned a nation of farmers. But one weed threatened Thomas’s vision.” Said weed is Count Buffon, a Frenchman whose disparaging lies about the New World eventually resulted in Jefferson’s arranging for the man to receive a moose via cargo ship. This unusual and amusing tale begins a series of revelations that continue to show Jefferson’s intense desire to boost his nation’s status and to improve its agriculture. The text is dense and contains sophisticated ideas and vocabulary, and numerous quotations appear in the entertaining artwork and the text itself. The seed metaphor is not extended to Jefferson’s known progeny, but the final section, “Thomas Today,” wisely invites readers to ponder Jefferson’s slave ownership.
It is no small feat to choose but a few facts about such a well-documented life; the choices made and the method of telling are both exemplary. (timeline, further information, notes) (Nonfiction. 9-12)