Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library

Barb Rosenstock, Author, John O'Brien, Illustrator
Barbara Rosenstock, illus. by John O’Brien. Boyds Mills/Calkins Creek, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-59078-932-2
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Thomas Jefferson “gobbled books the way a starving man eats.” Rosenstock’s (The Camping Trip That Changed America) apt metaphor sets the tone for this jaunty picture-book biography of the third U.S. president. Following Jefferson’s birth in 1743 to his restocking of the Library of Congress in 1815, the playful narrative (“While at college, he read fifteen hours a day. Guess what he started collecting?!”) complements even more playful illustrations. O’Brien’s (Look... Look Again!) dynamic ink-and-watercolor illustrations show the redheaded leader in perpetual motion around books, exaggerating his hobby to humorous effect. Jefferson stacks tomes on his mantel in the shape of the word “books” or reads several books at once by swinging from a trapeze. Pointillist dots overlay the artwork, texturing O’Brien’s pictures with a mottled look. Readers’ eyes will dart among several scenes in each spread, the busy layout giving a sense of Jefferson’s full education-driven life. Appearing on nearly every page are images of small, open books that provide further biographical facts and quotations. Author notes and a bibliography wrap up a lively peek at a literature-loving political giant. Ages 8–up. (Sept.)
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