From School Library Journal
Grade 3-6--In a note at the beginning of this attractive, accessible biography, Harness deals in an objective and nonjudgmental fashion with the most controversial aspects of Jefferson's life--his assertion that "all Men are created equal" while keeping slaves, and his relationship with Sally Hemings. The book then proceeds in a lively, nicely paced style to examine the many facets of the man's life, which included "Scientist, Lawyer, Farmer, Architect, Diplomat, Inventor, Musician, Philosopher, and third President of the United States." The text is peppered with numerous quotes from Jefferson. Bright and busy mixed-media illustrations range from a full-page framed spread to small inserts, and are an appropriate match for the energetic text. This is a solid addition to the biography shelf and a first purchase for most collections.--Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ
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Gr. 4-7. Harness continues her successful series of picture books about the presidents with Jefferson, who is more controversial than some of her previous subjects. Harness brings up his relationship with slave Sally Hemings in her introduction, but, curiously, almost drops the subject in the text. A somewhat larger problem is Harness' attempt to fit a huge amount of material into a relatively small space. Situations are truncated, and at times, readers will have to make informational leaps. That said, this is still a remarkable book; it gives children a sense of Jefferson's personality, his exceptional skills, and even the demons he struggled with as he tried to reconcile his belief that all men are created equal and his role as a slaveholder. Harness uses every opportunity to squeeze in more information, and her striking watercolor, gouache, ink, and colored-pencil pictures and maps add extra detail. There are no notes, and the bibliography is brief, but there's a useful time line highlighting Jefferson's world. Ilene CooperCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved