What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Maira Kalman

h1 May 30th, 2014 by jules

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Today over at Kirkus, I weigh in on the sounds of summer. That link is here.

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Last week, I wrote about Maira Kalman’s picture book biography of Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything (Nancy Paulsen Books, January 2014). That link is here, and I’m following up today with some art from the book.


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“He designed and built his home on a mountain in Virginia and called it Monticello (which means ‘Little Mountain’ in Italian). He kept changing changing changing the house all the time. There were seventy-six windows to let the light and air in.
He loved flowers growing and fish in the pond.
Another way of saying that is he loved flora and fauna.”

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“Even his bed was interesting. He designed it to be open to two different rooms. Jefferson slept slightly sitting up so he was ready to spring out of bed at the first light of dawn. He wanted to DO things. He could either go into his study with his ingenious copying machine and rotating book stand, or he could get out of bed on the other side, jump into his boots and go outside.”
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“President Jefferson bought land from Napoleon, the brilliant and fierce emperor of France, and doubled the size of the United States. (Napoleon needed money.)
It was called The Louisiana Purchase. He sent Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on an expedition to explore the land from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean.
They traveled through wild forests and rivers and mountains for three years.
Such brave men. They met many Native American tribespeople, including Sacagawea. She was only a teenager, but she helped guide them.”

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(Click either image to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)

(Click either image to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)

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THOMAS JEFFERSON: LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF EVERYTHING. Copyright © 2014 by Maira Kalman. Published by Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Group, New York. Spreads reproduced by permission of the publisher.

2 comments to “What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Maira Kalman”

  1. “This monumental man had monumental flaws.”

    Is it terrible of me to be grateful this bit is in the book??? Because, HELLO, the hypocrisy of the man. Too many picture books butter over these things, so as to keep the façade shiny and happy. My respect for this author goes higher…

  2. Yes, Tanita, as I wrote about over at Kirkus, the writing, in particular, here is remarkable and honest, and I really like this book.

    As she notes in the book, “Jefferson may have been a kind master, but it was still a horror.”

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