Those Rebels, John & Tom

Barbara Kerley, Author, Edwin Fotheringham, Illustrator
Barbara Kerley, illus. by Edwin Fotheringham. Scholastic Press, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-545-22268-6
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Kerley and Fotheringham, the team behind The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy), cleverly contrast two diverse founding fathers and early presidents, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Entertaining verse and droll illustrations parlay their differences and similarities into a lens through which to view the start of the American Revolution. Initial spreads draw distinctions between lively extrovert John and refined statesman Tom, using parallel contexts. “When [John] wasn’t in the courtroom, he planted corn, pruned fruit trees, and chased his chickens and ducks.... When [Tom] wasn’t in the courtroom, he maintained his accounts, surveyed his lands, and dined on chicken and duck.” A playful tone also is reflected in the typeface, with certain phrases enlarged for shout-out emphasis, and in the caricatured artwork. Skillfully rendered and decidedly modern in a patriotic palette of red, white, blue, and brown, the digitally created scenes mirror and enhance the text’s wit (in one illustration, Tom uses a quill pen to spatter an image of King George with ink). A witty and wise portrait of strength being born out of difference. Agent: Writers House. Illustrator’s agent: Pat Hackett. Ages 7–11. (Jan.)
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