Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Quite Contrary Man: A True American Tale” as Want to Read:
The Quite Contrary Man: A True American Tale
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Quite Contrary Man: A True American Tale

3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  78 Ratings  ·  29 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
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Quite Contrary Man, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Quite Contrary Man

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 123)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Apr 10, 2015 Caitlin rated it it was amazing
I read this to read with my students.

This is so good! Joseph Palmer a.k.a. "Beard Palmer" was a real man who oppossed slavery and being free to be who he was. Thrown in jail for having a beard i.e. being different, he gets letters about his bad treatment to a local newspaper. When the jailor tries to have him pay for the little amenities he recieved while in jail, he pulls a sly move and escapes scot-free. I love this dude!
Sep 14, 2011 Tasha rated it really liked it
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
Aug 05, 2011 Barbara rated it really liked it
Shelves: ncbla
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
Sep 29, 2015 Margaret rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Margaret by: Mary Ann Zissimos

Originally posted on Creative Madness Mama.Quite Contrary Man Children's book Review

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.
Patricia Rusch Hyatt is the author of Coast to Coast with Alice, about th

Loved this "True American Tale" of an early New Englander who bucked the status quo. I'd never seen this book nor heard of "Beard" Palmer but it's a great addition to a social justice/stand up for your rights kind of collection. My 5 year old saw the pictures and said "is this Farmer Boy?" because he noticed the way the characters were dressed and the horse wagons, etc.
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
Beard Palmer was stubborn and would not shave off his beard. He went to jail and read to find out how he was released...
Debby Baumgartner
In a time in America when it was not acceptable for men to have a beard, Joseph Palmer refuses to shave his beard and spends time in jail.
Oct 21, 2012 Michelle rated it really liked it
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
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.
Dec 09, 2011 Rebecca rated it really liked it
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.
Jun 22, 2015 Chandra marked it as youngster-reads
A nice, slightly humorous introduction for children to tales that have a bit of true history. The main character of this book is quite likable and is a man of true self fortitude. I also liked the well drawn illustrations.
Feb 22, 2012 Amy rated it really liked it
Shelves: children, biography
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.
Apr 04, 2012 stillme rated it liked it
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
Dec 02, 2011 Shanshad Whelan rated it really liked it
Who today would ever think a man could be persecuted and ostracized because he chose to grow a beard?
Jul 09, 2012 Hannah rated it liked it
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?!
Jul 12, 2011 Ginny rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books, 2011
Fun learning a bit at the end about the history of why beards were looked down upon.
Mary Lee
Nov 24, 2011 Mary Lee rated it really liked it
Good for conversations about our American rights.
Feb 26, 2012 Kim rated it really liked it
Freedom of speech/expression. Funny!
L.K. Sukany
L.K. Sukany rated it really liked it
May 25, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Share This Book