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Thomas Jefferson Grows a Nation
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Thomas Jefferson Grows a Nation

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  104 ratings  ·  31 reviews
Thomas Jefferson was more than a president and patriot. He was also a planter and gardener who loved to watch things grow—everything from plants and crops to even his brand-new nation. As minister to France, Jefferson promoted all things American, sharing corn and pecans with his Parisian neighbors. As secretary of state, he encouraged his fellow farmers to grow olives, ri ...more
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published September 8th 2015 by Calkins Creek
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3.63  · 
Rating details
 ·  104 ratings  ·  31 reviews

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This was a lovely book! I was inspired by all he did to “grow” many things. It’s a nice companion book to studying his many accomplishments. I loved the quotes and other interesting nuggets of his desire to improve Europe’s opinion of this beautiful country and his desire to plant and cultivate America.
Aug 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Thomas Jefferson Grows a Nation looks at the accomplishments of TJ through his love of growing things- highlighting the fact that although he was accomplished in a great many things he was, in his heart, a farmer. The majority of the book phrases all of the changes he brought about and challenges he faced in agriculture terms, "growth", "planting", "nurture", "weeds", "uprooted", etc- further highlighting his agricultural focus and background. I enjoyed this way of approaching TJ's life- it is d ...more
Jun 03, 2017 rated it liked it
The approach of this informational book for young readers is definitely different because it references primary sources and focuses on less known facts about Jefferson the farmer and peace commissioner. What I don't appreciate is how the text glosses over the land grab that left native Americans without their ancestral territories. An uncomfortable topic, to be sure, but it's our history.
Oct 25, 2015 rated it liked it
This was fascinating, but would children engage with this book? The handwritten part, I wonder about especially, as many children are not taught cursive now; will children be able to read Jefferson's own words on the subject as presented here? Then, this is for an older, more mature child who has the depth to understand and plow through (no pun intended).
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was not a typical biographical read about our third president and writer of the worlds most famous breakup letter Thomas Jefferson. Instead author Peggy Thomas focused on how Jefferson worked at growing the nations reputation with its diverse plant and animal life. The illustrations are adorable and complement the information well. Readers should not overlook the informative afterward.
Rich F
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
It’s well-researched and interesting with classy drawings. I’m not sure that there is a wide audience for this, but having been to Monticello myself, I learned new things about Jefferson through this text and it reminded me of the gardens I saw there.

Using the lens of plants and some animals, Thomas details Jefferson’s contributions to both the political and natural world. She deftly conveys a sense of Jefferson’s personality as well as his considerable interests and talents on many fronts. An artistic rendering of a quote, “No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth,” followed up by a two-page spread of Jefferson plowing a field, set up the agricultural metaphors used throughout. Thomas then playfully tells of his int
Mar 04, 2016 rated it liked it
A picture book biography of Jefferson, focusing on his skills as a farmer, cultivator of seeds and of democracy. It starts after the American Revolution, when he writes a book on Virginia natural resources to refute the French naturalist Count Buffon's claims that all plants and animals in the United States are inferior to American ones. Jefferson becomes minister to France and talks to Buffon in person, but can't convince him otherwise. He even has a dead American moose shipped to France!! It t ...more
Mar 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
I find this picture book a bit of a puzzle in the current market. While nonfiction picture books are allowed to be longer than fiction picture books, this book defies the odds with one of the highest word counts I've seen in a picture book published in the last year. I was boggled at the amount of text in this book but determined to wade my way through the morass and read it.

And given that it is a nonfiction picture book, it also manages to somehow pull off a unique perspective on Thomas Jeffers
Oct 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommended to Luann by: JLG
I love to learn about people through picture book biographies like this. They don't have enough scope to give you the full story, but they always have enough to teach you something new and maybe spark an interest in reading something else about that person.

This picture book biography focuses on Thomas Jefferson as a farmer, which to him means a person who is sensible, honest and plainspoken. It looks at many of Thomas Jefferson's accomplishments through the lens of being someone who likes to cu
Michael Fitzgerald
This book felt like an overgrown footnote. Honestly, I don't think children need to have a book about this aspect of Jefferson's life when they likely don't know his greater historical accomplishments. I shudder to think that we might have a sequel all about his violin playing. I guess the author, editor, and publisher felt that this was a way to connect with kids - but to me it feels dishonest.

The book's continual referring to Jefferson as "Thomas" was grating. I can understand this kind of th
Merrilyn Tucker
Jul 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Thomas Jefferson's vision for the United States, of agricultural towns and small businesses, is explored. Jefferson's important contributions and service to this nation are named, and his reverence for nature and the farmer's life are explored. Stacy Innerst's art uniquely highlights this biography. For example, he uses quill pen and ink to handwrite authentically quotes from Jefferson, and Innerst's pictures mirror what the author states on each page. Peggy Thomas, the author, certainly had a t ...more
I've read quite a lot about Thomas Jefferson, whose purchase of the Louisiana Territory, doubled the nation in size. But I had never read much about his affinity for gardening, which this picture book covers thoroughly. Young readers will learn about Jefferson's fondness for Americana and his readiness to defend the flora and fauna of the New World, particularly against French snobbery. The text is lively, and particularly appealing because it connects the idea of sowing garden seeds of knowledg ...more
Daniele Jackley
Nov 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book includes bobblehead like illustrations, descriptions of plant life in the United States, and an accurate history of the United States and Thomas Jefferson's involvement during the setting. This book focuses on the time from the signing of the Declaration of Independence to the time that Thomas Jefferson passed away. With most of the book focusing on the uniqueness of the new found land and its inhabitants, this story is chock-full of history and horticulture that would be a wonderful l ...more
Lauren Eckman
Oct 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is a bibliography about Thomas Jefferson. It goes through events in his life and the impact he has had on our government and society. It also talks about his personal life and great interest in growing crops. This book is probably based on third or fourth grades. The style of the writing is longer and textbook like. It also has specific quotes from Jefferson and others. There are pictures to go along with the text just like a picture book. This could be very useful for teachers to use ...more
Wendi Lau
Oct 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
I liked reading about Mr. Jefferson's love of growing things. I disagree with this from the afterword: "we must decide for ourselves how slavery taints the legacy of Thomas Jefferson. Fortunately, his words spoke louder than his actions." This politically correct comment is in direct contrast to Mr. Jefferson's well-lived life. The author's pandering to the current vogue of political correctness misses the point of freedom, independence, and learning that this Founding Father hoped for his new n ...more
I never cease to be impressed with Thomas Jefferson, a true Renaissance man in thought, words, and deeds. This picture book biography focuses on Jefferson's impact on the agriculture of our nation. Rich in documentation, this is a sophisticated biography made accessible. I am especially impressed how the author was able to organize the many facts about Jefferson's life to make a cohesive thesis connecting his passion for plants to his public policy.
Sara Grochowski
Before reading this book, I had no idea how integral Thomas Jefferson's ideas were to the development of agricultural in the US. I appreciated that the author's note at the end, which adds: "We must decide for ourselves how slavery taints the legacy of Thomas Jefferson." Addressing the shortcomings of Jefferson provided a better rounded illustration of this founding father.
Pamela Powell
Sep 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids-nonfiction
A fascinating account of our third President. While I knew he was a avid gardener, I didn't realize the full extent of his interest in agriculture. Not only did he pursue gardening at his home, Monticello, but while in France as minister plenipotentiary he actively searched for new plants to bring back to the States and worked to interest the French in US agricultural products.
Jul 16, 2015 rated it liked it
bookaday #87. Very interesting account of Jefferson's efforts to promote and grow the young United States as an agricultural country, planting not just the seed of liberty but the seeds of all sorts of new plant products. Extensive back matter including source notes for all Jefferson quotes used in the text. Golden farm style colors dominate the illustrations.
This book contains all kinds of interesting information about Jefferson, but does not mention the slaves he owned or fathered. The back matter does talk about his slave owning in two paragraphs, six hundred people over his lifetime. The omission of this part of Jefferson's life in the main body of the book, is large in my opinion for a text that was published this year (2015).
Edward Sullivan
This entertaining and informative picture book biography depicts the many ways in which Jefferson was a cultivator. The author does a nice job of incorporating quotes from Jefferson into the narrative.
The main narrative glorifies Thomas Jefferson a bit, but the idea of "growing" is carried throughout the book and is a nice way to envision all of Jefferson's accomplishments. There is an afterword that goes into a more balanced description of Jefferson.
Growing fruits and vegetables, this farmer also grew a mighty nation!
Miss Melissa
Oct 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Great Picture book biography, but left out how Jefferson planted the "seed" for the library of congress by donating his personal library after the original was lost in a fire!
Dec 30, 2015 rated it liked it
That Jefferson was able to pull off the Louisiana Purchase amazes me to this day. He seems like he was a fascinating individual, interested in everything. I would have loved to meet him.
Oct 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this interesting side of Jefferson very much. I'm a bit unsure about who the audience is however.
Oct 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
It's a great book for students in lower grade levels. It emphasizes Thomas Jefferson's love for agriculture and the expansion of the U.S.
Apr 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
Tons of information. I was overloaded as an adult, not sure how children would respond to this book?
A lot I either didn't know, or didn't remember! Very educational on the life and accomplishments of Thomas Jefferson!
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