This effort to illuminate and explicate the affectionate relationship between George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette, as well as its impact on United States history, is enthusiastic but perhaps ambitious for the format.
The body of the work is presented as an illustrated narrative with interjections expressing Lafayette’s point of view; focusing on a short period of time, it is relatively straightforward. Moved by news of the American Revolution, the young Marquis slips out of France at the age of 19 and sails to the New World to offer his services to Washington’s army. Only tolerated at first (because earlier émigrés had not left a positive impression), Lafayette shows his mettle in the battle of Brandywine and forges a lifelong personal bond with the general he so admires. Castrovilla writes in a heightened, emotive voice punctuated by exclamations in French. Extensive backmatter provides additional details including, among other things, a description of the continuing connection between the two men, chronological outlines of their lives, a list of French phrases found in the text, a bibliography and a list of relevant historical sites. Kozjan’s illustrations, pen and ink with digital color, reflect the action of the text effectively for the most part, though awkwardly drawn figures, both human and animal, and odd expressions distract in some cases.
Of potential interest as curriculum support, this treatment requires advanced reading skills (or a grown-up) and a basic understanding of the historical context. (Informational picture book. 9-12)