From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8-While Ferris offers standard biographical and background information about Jefferson's life, detailing his childhood, education, marriage and family life, and lengthy government service, she places those topics in a framework of his impressive intellectual and philosophical pursuits. She explains how his lifelong quest for knowledge and understanding both shaped his political beliefs and actions and allowed him to have a profound influence on the foundations of American democracy. That emphasis is the real strength of this book. The author is admiring of the man, but also discusses his struggle to balance his awareness of the evils of slavery against his ownership of slaves. She uses numerous primary sources. Well-chosen black-and-white period art and modern location photos add to the text. This book will serve a slightly younger audience than Milton Meltzer's Thomas Jefferson (Watts, 1991), which offers more detail about Jefferson's life and a strong analysis of the man and the slavery issue. Ferris moves beyond the standard great-deeds analysis found in so many biographies, thus providing an understanding of both the man and his continuing legacy.Mary Mueller, Rolla Junior High School, MO
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
In the Trailblazer Biography series, an entry that proceeds chronologically, through the highlights of Jefferson's life, from his boyhood in Virginia, college days, family, views on slavery, the construction of Monticello, his reluctant participation in the new government, retirement, and death, with an summary of his legacy. Throughout, Ferris (What I Had Was Singing, 1994) focuses on Jefferson's writings and his fanatical organization. The text is seamless in the coverage of Jefferson's public life, and will hold interest; it is less effective when offering a glimpse of the man's private life, e.g., the deaths of his children are mentioned without a hint of how he may have been affected. As a result, he remains a statesman in this volume, rather than a fully realized person. The complexities and contradictions (that he kept slaves while attempting to eliminate slavery) are rationalized, but not convincingly. Despite these flaws, this biography will attract readers too young for John B. Severance's Thomas Jefferson (p. 1293). (b&w reproductions, maps, notes, bibliography, index) (Biography. 9-13) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.