Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson

Cheryl Harness
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 7 to 10
National Geographic, 2004   ISBN: 978-0792264965

Thomas Jefferson was a tall quiet man who read widely and who was interested in all sorts of things; from agriculture to philosophy, and from architecture to state craft Jefferson seemed to have a bottomless source of interest and curiosity. Though he was not fiery or verbose like his friend Patrick Henry, Jefferson too had strong opinions about the state of affairs in his country. He and his friends came to believe that they could no longer accept being ruled by the English king across the ocean. The time had come to fight for freedom and to find a way to create a new state called the United States of America.

Though Jefferson played a vital role in this process and though he even became the president of this new state for four years, he did not consider his political achievements to be that important. He was probably most proud of the university that he founded in Charlottesville Virginia, and he also was enormously proud of his home, Monticello, which he designed himself. Today Jefferson is also remembered with great admiration as being the man who sent Lewis and Clark on their famous journey across the country, and for being the one who signed the Louisiana Purchase and thus gained an enormous amount of land for the United States.

Cheryl Harness superbly captures the modest and brilliant nature of Thomas Jefferson, a man whose life was full of contradictions which even today we have a hard time understanding. The man who wrote the words "all men are created equal" had slaves working for him and his family, slaves which he never freed from their bondage. Harness touches on this aspect of Jefferson?s personality with great sensitivity, and she let us decide for ourselves how we feel about this very controversial issue.

With wonderful illustrations and an enormous amount of information, this book gives the reader a well rounded and thoughtful picture of one of America?s most famous and most interesting men.