Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Take the Lead, George Washington

Take the Lead, George Washington

Judith St. George
Illustrator:  Daniel Powers 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 8 to 12
Penguin Putnam, 2005   ISBN: 978-0399238871

When he was young George Washington was content with his lot, and was happy enough being the son of a farmer. His father, Gus, wanted more for himself and his sons however - he wanted to be a gentleman farmer, a man of means and who did not have to work in the fields himself. Gus worked hard towards this end and probably would have achieved it had he not died suddenly when George was still a boy. George now looked to his half-brother Lawrence for guidance. He quickly learned that as the third son, he would have to make his own way in the world and make his own living too. The question was - how was he to do so, what was he going to do with his life?

George first of all set about educating himself on how to be gentleman. With his father gone he would not be able to go to a fancy school in England as his two elder half-brothers had done. Undaunted George learned all he could from a book, copying all one hundred and ten rules of good manners out faithfully.

George spent a good deal of time in the company of his bother Laurence and a dream grew in his mind, a dream of having his own plantation, land, and a "great house." When George was offered the opportunity to go on a surveying trip for Lord Fairfax he jumped at the opportunity and soon enough George began the first of his great adventures. Battling against dreadful weather and all manner of hardships, George discovered that he could indeed stand on his own two feet, that he was capable of being a good surveyor, and most important of all, he learned that he could tackle anything he put his mind to.

This inspiring story about the young George Washington shows the reader that even the greatest of men has self doubts and worries. We see George Washington as a young man with few prospects but with plenty of opportunities if he is willing to reach out and take them for himself. It is never easy to take that first step into the unknown and it is gratifying to know that George Washington too had his worries and fears. It makes his successes more powerful and his accomplishments more real.