cover image Jefferson Measures a Moose

Jefferson Measures a Moose

Mara Rockliff, illus. by S.D. Schindler. Candlewick, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-76

Kids obsessed with asking “How many?” and “How much?” will find a kindred spirit in the relentlessly inquisitive, if notably incomplete, Thomas Jefferson portrayed in this volume, who “jotted down numbers everywhere he went. He counted strawberries. He measured trees. He knew how much it cost to see a monkey and how hot it was in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776.” This obsession with measurement drives Rockliff’s droll true tale of fraught international relations and wounded national pride. After Buffon, a French scientist, claims that animals in the U.S. “were just too small,” Jefferson counters these erroneous perceptions using actual measurements. He publishes a book, recruits James Madison to weigh weasels, and has a large (decomposing) moose shipped to France. Schindler’s period illustrations, washed in faded color, depict the supercilious bewigged Buffon and an alarmingly limp moose carcass. Supplemental materials answer the outlandish questions Rockliff’s Jefferson poses and shed light on his “mania for math.” Ages 6–9. (Aug.)