Jefferson Measures a Moose

Candlewick. Aug. 2020. 48p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780763694104.
Gr 2-5–Thomas Jefferson had an affinity for numbers. He measured anything that sparked his curiosity—the miles in an hour’s walk, the weight of a cow, and temperatures of the land and sea. When a French natural history expert named Buffon criticized the natural resources of America and called the country “a terrible, miserable, cold, damp place where nothing good could grow,” Jefferson was determined to prove him wrong. He measured different animals, including bears, bison, beavers, and a moose, to show Buffon and the world that America was not an inhospitable land. Rockliff depicts a lesser-known side of Jefferson—the mathematician. The text reads well, and older children could handle the language on their own, even if some of the more tongue-in-cheek comments go over their heads. Schindler’s illustrations evoke a distinct sense of place and time. Some readers, educators, and caretakers may find the artwork of the moose carcass, stink lines and all, a little off-putting. The back matter includes two sections entitled “A Mania for Math” and “Jefferson’s Numbers,” which provide a deeper dive into the statesman’s fascination with math and the answers he sought. Lists of primary and secondary sources are also featured.
VERDICT An acceptable addition for collections looking to make their Founding Fathers sections a little more interesting.

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