Thomas Paine and the Dangerous Word

Sarah Jane Marsh, illus. by Edwin Fotheringham. Disney-Hyperion, $19.99 (80p) ISBN 978-148478144-9
“Nobody expected much of young Thomas Paine,” begins Marsh in this buoyant story of Paine’s often-turbulent development as a Revolutionary-era writer and political activist. Though Paine attended school as a youth, he was forced to withdraw to work in his father’s corset shop. Nevertheless, as Paine is quoted as saying, “The mind once enlightened cannot again become dark.” Marsh recounts difficult passages in Paine’s life—failed businesses, bankruptcy, the death of his first wife and separation from his second—demonstrating how his love of the written word and dogged persistence (along with a fortuitous meeting with Benjamin Franklin) led to his eventual fame. Once in America, Paine channeled his outrage over the injustice of slavery and advocacy for American independence into his magnum opus, Common Sense. Fotheringham (A Home for Mr. Emerson), in his distinctive digital art featuring inky, dotted lines and infused with vivacity, depicts the struggles and triumphs of an unlikely revolutionary. Describing Paine as “America’s first best-selling author,” Marsh pays tribute to this inspiring historical figure. Ages 6–10. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/07/2018
Release date: 05/29/2018
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