Reviews for Worst of Friends : Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and the True Story of an American Feud

Booklist Reviews 2011 December #1
*Starred Review* Can presidents be friends? "Not often" is the short answer, backed up in the opening author's note. This picture book tells of an exceptional pair of friends, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, who bonded as they worked together for America's independence. Later, after a heated political disagreement, they stopped speaking. Each retired after his presidency and, as the years went by, began to admire the other once again. When Adams wrote a note, Jefferson responded warmly. Good friends once again, they corresponded for the rest of their lives. Like Jurmain and Day's George Did It (2006), this picture book accomplishes a great deal. Jurmain introduces two major figures in American history and brings them to life, even as she tells the story of two people who turn against each other during a disagreement but later put it in perspective and enjoy their friendship once again. That's a lesson as equally applicable on playgrounds as in the halls of power. Nicely composed and full of amusing details, Day's vivid drawings, brightened with watercolor washes, establish the setting and the characters while dramatizing their story with spirit. A celebration of two remarkable figures in American history and the resilience of their friendship. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Spring
This frothy follow-up to George Did It shrinks the title statesmen's rivalry into a personality clash, removing much of the politics from a political story; for all its focus on conflict, the book avoids difficult topics. Day's watercolors are lively caricatures with some fine effects, such as a spread of the Continental Congress crowding around Jefferson as he writes the Declaration of Independence. Copyright 2012 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2011 October #1
Though John Adams and Thomas Jefferson "...were as different as pickles and ice cream," they were able to work together to fight for America's independence—for a while. In the late 1770s, they developed conflicting ideas about government and aligned with opposing political parties. When John Adams was elected as the second U.S. president, Jefferson was elected vice president. This exacerbated their rocky relationship, and when Jefferson was ultimately elected president over Adams, their friendship ended. Over a decade would pass before they spoke again. The team that created George Did It (2005) now brings to light both the trials and tribulations of these two notable leaders and the turbulence of early American politics. Energetic watercolor-and-pencil drawings accurately represent the late 18th century, showing the dress, style and architecture of the period. Feisty narration paired with amusing illustrations makes light of sticky situations, as when Jefferson physically restrains an angry Adams from assaulting King George and Adams moves himself out of the White House in the dead of night. Although quotations are not specifically sourced, the selected bibliography reveals a wealth of research, including several primary sources. A pleasingly lucid look at a complicated relationship, it should prove revelatory to an audience unaccustomed to such nuance. (Informational picture book. 6-8) Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 October #4

As in their George Did It, these smartly paired collaborators offer a behind-the-public-persona look at American patriots. In zingy prose, Jurmain tells how Thomas Jefferson and John Adams "were as different as pickles and ice cream" (the former was tall, thin, and quiet; the latter short, round, and loquacious). Yet she emphasizes that the two were best friends who worked together to shape America before parting ways when Jefferson backed the Republicans and Adams the Federalists. Entertaining anecdotes about both presidents' personal and political lives are energized by Day's lightly caricatured watercolor cartoons, which flesh out their personalities. Day depicts some scenarios with humorous exaggeration, as when Jefferson grabs Adams's coattails to keep him from pummeling King George, and Adams stealthily carts his possessions out of the White House on the morning of Jefferson's inauguration. In a heartwarming denouement, the two end an 11-year silence when Adams pens a conciliatory letter to Jefferson, later admitting, "You... had as good a right to your opinion as I had to mine." This entertaining and character-driven slice of history also offers a clear message about friendship. Ages 6-8. (Dec.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2011 November

Gr 2-4--Many children know about our second and third presidents, but do they know that those men had a tumultuous friendship that spanned the beginning years of the United States? Cleverly humanizing them, Jurmain demonstrates that fractious politics are not a new phenomenon in America. The two men were best friends throughout the 1770s and '80s, helping to form a new nation. Problems began around 1790 when their different ideas about how the government should work caused a fissure. In 1797, they ran against each other for office. Although Adams became president and Jefferson vice-president, they each represented a different political party. Disagreements between the Republicans and the Federalists led to anger and even violence. After Jefferson became president in 1801, the distance between them grew even larger. Late in their lives, however, a truce was reached. From 1812 to their deaths on the same day, July 4, 1826, Adams and Jefferson maintained a warm correspondence. Day's watercolor-and-ink illustrations brilliantly add humor to the narrative. The design is ambitious and effective. The cover contains elements of the American flag framing Jefferson and Adams angrily arguing. Inside, the illustrations vary between full page and divided panels. Some backgrounds are white; others are filled in with details or a simple color wash. Spreads have scenes of high dramatic emphasis. Especially for Presidents' Day or as a vehicle for discussing friendship issues, Worst of Friends is a winner.--Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 September
Gr 2-5-"Different as pickles and ice cream," Adams and Jefferson were America's original odd couple. Keeping the tone light, Jurmain explains why these close friends became enemies over the Constitution. Finely detailed watercolor illustrations are historically accurate with a little fun thrown in. 99 percent history + 1 percent whimsy = 100 percent awesomeness. Audio version available from Recorded Books. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.