cover image Alexander Hamilton: The Outsider

Alexander Hamilton: The Outsider

Jean Fritz, illus. by Ian Schoenherr, Putnam, $16.99 (144p) ISBN 978-0-399-25546-5

Fritz (Leonardo's Horse) pens a wide-ranging biography of one of the founding fathers that details Hamilton's role in events that shaped his adopted, nascent country—fighting in the Revolutionary War, drafting the Constitution, etc. However, readers learn about more than just Hamilton, due in part to his prominent associations (he was a confidant of George Washington, and the book explores their sometimes turbulent relationship). The book's nine chapters are divided into five sections, titled to reflect the broad stages of Hamilton's life: Beginnings, Soldier, Aide-de-Camp, Statesman, and Endings. The packed narrative often speculates to flesh out small details, as when describing Hamilton's funeral, "which may have led many in the audience to nod their head and perhaps sometimes smile in forgiveness." And while the story can feel choppy at times, an overriding theme emerges of Hamilton as a Renaissance man committed to his ideas—among them, the central banking system, U.S. Mint, Coast Guard—and willing to work hard to see them accomplished. Schoenherr's linocut-style vignettes as well as period images, not all seen by PW, break up the text. Ages 8–12. (Jan.)