cover image Thomas Jefferson Grows a Nation

Thomas Jefferson Grows a Nation

Peggy Thomas, illus. by Stacy Innerst. Boyds Mills/Calkins Creek, $16.95 (48p) ISBN 978-1-62091-628-5

Thomas follows Farmer George Plants a Nation with an adeptly distilled examination of Thomas Jefferson’s achievements, seen through the lens of his agricultural passions. His failures appear alongside his successes—at one point, Jefferson has a moose killed and shipped to France in a (fruitless) attempt to persuade a French naturalist of America’s majesty; later, he smuggles rice out of Italy, but the crop fails in America. As she did in Farmer George, Thomas uses an afterword to acknowledge that “today it is difficult to understand how the writer of the Declaration of Independence could own slaves.” Innerst’s muted gouache paintings contribute playful touches (she gives the ill-fated moose red and blue antlers dotted with white stars) that are in step with Thomas’s informal narration and Jefferson’s curiosity and optimism. Ages 9–12. Illustrator’s agent: Susan Cohen, Writers House. (Sept.)