Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Those Rebels, John and Tom

Those Rebels, John and Tom by Barbara Kerley
Illustrations by Edwin Fotheringham 

I had the opportunity to hear Barbara Kerley speak as a part of a panel at School Library Journal’s Leadership Summit 2012 in Philadelphia this past weekend.  She spoke passionately about the use of nonfiction picture books in this brave new world with the Common Core being implemented.  We often see nonfiction picture book biographies of individual historic figures, but rarely do we see a view comparing and contrasting our forefathers such as this one does.  As the text and illustrations demonstrate, John Addams and Thomas Jefferson were very different from the start, with their upbringing, demeanor, physicality and hobbies.  But both were patriots, with very similar goals in mind for the future of the colonies.  When John described the progress of forming a new government, he used the expression, “slow as snails.”  Not much has changed in our government’s proceedings, but in a democracy where each voice is heard, such is life.  While Thomas Jefferson was a strong writer, John Addams could compel delegates to see reason with his verbal arguments in favor of the document Tom had crafted, The Declaration of Independence.  The Author’s Note continues the conversation to show the ongoing friendship between Thomas Jefferson and John Addams including their contrasting views over slavery and differences over the size and power of government and the presidency.  Remarkably, both men died just a few hours apart on July 4th, fifty years after the Declaration was signed.  A facsimilie of the Declaration is included opposite the Author’s Note with each of the signers represented.  The source of each quotation is documented on the final page. 

Edwim Fotheringham’s illustrations in primary colors are bold throughout, and accentuate the differences between characters, the differences between England, King George, and the colonies.  One of my favorite illustrations shows John Addams being startled out of his bed as the Redcoats march below his window in an exercise.  There are also small details that may otherwise go unnoticed.  When Tom is arriving in Philadelphia, only Nay’s are being heard from Independence Hall.  As Tom and John start to reach their own agreement, the Yea’s and Nay’s are balancing out and as each man finds his strength, the Yay’s are resounding in Congress.  Barbara Kerley expressed on the panel at the SLJ Summit that she wanted students to have an example of a functional congress.  Mission accomplished!

Those Rebels, John and Tom
ISBN: 978-0-545-22268-6
Published: 2012 by Scholastic Press

I borrowed this copy from the public library to read and review it.
Review copy borrowed from the library prior to SLJ Summit where I heard Barbara Kerley speak and received a copy of the book, "Those Rebels, John and Tom."
I plan to add this book to our school library collection.

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