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The Quite Contrary Man: A True American Tale
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The Quite Contrary Man: A True American Tale

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  66 ratings  ·  25 reviews
In early-nineteenth-century New England, folks considered a clean chin a sign of godliness. Born into this buttoned-up, strict society, Joseph Palmer stood out from childhood as someone who liked to do things his own way. A friend to Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Alcotts, Palmer lived by his own code and grew a belly-flowing beard that made his neighbors so crazy that they t ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published May 1st 2011 by Harry N. Abrams
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In 19th-century New England when people lived and dressed plainly, Joseph Palmer most certainly did not. It was his beard that made him different, since all the other men were clean shaven. But Joseph did not just have a normal beard, his was huge, long and wide. His neighbors were scandalized and tried to shame him into shaving, eventually trying to shave him by force. His attackers headed to court before Joseph could get there and claimed that he had attacked them. The judge fined him $10, but ...more
Many decades ago in a time when conformity was valued, Joseph Palmer chose to grow a beard that flourished and grew long past his face. Joseph had been considered stubborn since he was a baby, and despite his gentle ways with animals and his own children, his neighbors were scandalized. Even the preacher gave sermons about the beard, and some of his neighbors tried to cut the beard off. When he ends up in jail, Palmer writes letters about the injustice he is suffering--all because of that beard. ...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Well, if people don't find the darnedest little historical tidbits to make into a children's book! Hyatt has taken a true story about a man who lived in 19th century Massachusetts and turned it into an amusing tale which also makes an interesting point about freedom of choice and individuality. Apparently in New England at this time people were expected to dress and act alike. If you did differently you were then easily spotted as "not one of us." One of the things men were supposed to do was sh ...more
I've been wanting to read this one for awhile simply because I loved the cover illustration. The book is the true story of a man named Joseph "Beard" Palmer who didn't fit in his New England village because he "dared to grow a beard." Not just any beard but an enormous one that stretched from "chin to belly and from elbow to elbow." This was during a time when all men shaved their faces, to match the French style. They believed he was un-American and many people tried to get him to cut it, once ...more
A picture book tale of historic figure, Joseph Palmer. Palmer grew and maintained a beard when it was highly unfashionable to do so. In fact, it was preached against in church. Community members ambushed Palmer one early morning and attempted to shave his beard off. Palmer, however, fought so hard that the men went straight to the courthouse to report their injuries. Palmer was called to the courthouse and fined $10 for maintaining a beard and the injuries he caused the men by fighting them off. ...more
The thought of people being so determined to take a man's beard that they would assault him in the street seems almost unthinkable, but this book proves that that was the case for Joseph "Beard" Palmer. This well-researched text about Beard Palmer's fight to keep his beard despite the town, the church, and the law all siding against him is another great example of overzealous New Englanders trying to control their fellow countrymen. The endnote reveals that Beard Palmer was also a severe advocat ...more
A fun tale of Joseph Palmer (from Leominster, MA) who sported a beard when it was unfashionable. The neighbors gossiped, the churchgoers thought it sinful, and when he refused to pay a fine when he was jumped by four razor wielding men, poor Joseph ends up in jail. He stayed there for one year, because he refused to shave or pay a fine.
He stood by his convictions and stubborn ways. The author 's note shares historical background especially concerning how facial hair has played a part in history
Nov 15, 2014 Chandra marked it as children
A nice introduction to tales with true history. The main character is quite likable and is a man of true self fortitude. Very nice drawn illustrations as well.
This is a terrific children's book about the way one man stood his ground against codified mandatory conformity. Beard Palmer spent a year in jail for his refusal to shave his beard. There's a helpful historical note at the end which gives some helpful cultural context for the time period. The illustrations wonderfully convey the mood as it changes throughout the story. The book would be a good tool to open discussion with children about personal convictions and consequences we may face for hold ...more
Nov 11, 2011 Margaret rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Margaret by: Mary Ann Zissimos
What a great story. This is a fun one to show history and civil disobedience to your children. It sets out many layers prime for discussion and research. Definitely a good one for homeschool history.

The artwork is very attractive and full of imagination. Abrams Books for Young Readers has an all around winner here.

Typed on NookColor.
Thanks to Abrams for providing a copy for review.

Originally posted:
Alyson (Kid Lit Frenzy)
"Beard" Palmer stood up for the right to keep his beard despite being thrown in jail as a result of refusing to shave it off. At first I was expecting a story about an unpleasant person based on the title. However, Palmer appears (at least by the way the tale is told) to have been well loved by his family but ornery when it came to things like standing up for his right to have facial hair or prisoner's conditions, etc. I enjoyed this one.
Karen Arendt
This story should appeal to children because Joseph Palmer refused to follow society's etiquette. He refused to shave his beard and was jailed for a year for it. He was also stubborn about other things as well as the story shows- publishing complaints about the jail conditions. Based on a true story. The illustrations are entertaining and humorous with some full bleed pages and some on a twig-framed white background.
More love for books that show us a snippet of little-known history! "Beard" Palmer lived in a 19th-century community where clean-shaven was the way to be, and he was very contrary about it -- he loved his giant beard and was willing to go to jail for it! Includes a Historical Note about beards in history, and the irony of how they became en vogue a mere 30 years later (thank you, Abe Lincoln).
Humorous and thought-provoking in turn, this book introduces young readers to the true story of Joseph "Beard" Palmer, who was jailed for refusing to shave off his beard. Set during the early 19th Century, readers catch a glimpse of the social mores of the time period.
The quite contrary man reads like a tall tale but it appears to be based on a true story. I find the fact that someone was persecuted for growing a beard fascinating. The story is an easy one to read and the illustrations really enhance it.
This book about is about Joseph Palmer, a very contrary man. He grew a beard when no one grew a beard--and went to jail for one year because of it. This book offers a light-hearted look at someone who stood up for his beliefs.
A short episode from one man's life, but I thoroughly enjoyed this short tale of how beards were once forbidden. Great book about being true to yourself. And how do you go wrong with beards?
Paul  Hankins
This would make a nice companion to Walden and "Civil Disobedience." The connections made in the end notes secures a place for this book in any unit on Transcendentalism and the Alcotts.
An unusual subject matter. I felt like it ended somewhat abruptly and relied on the author's note to finish the story.
ALSC Notable 2012
Shanshad Whelan
Who today would ever think a man could be persecuted and ostracized because he chose to grow a beard?
While I was not a huge fan of the tall tale itself, I did love the fact that it was based on a true story.
Who knew that having a beard at one point in our American history could get you thrown into jail?!
Fun learning a bit at the end about the history of why beards were looked down upon.
Mary Lee
Good for conversations about our American rights.
Freedom of speech/expression. Funny!
Hana Bouziane
Hana Bouziane marked it as to-read
Dec 05, 2014
Amanda Funnell
Amanda Funnell marked it as to-read
Oct 11, 2014
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May 29, 2014
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Apr 19, 2014
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