When Mr. Jefferson Came to Philadelphia: What I Learned of Freedom, 1776

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9780060275792: When Mr. Jefferson Came to Philadelphia: What I Learned of Freedom, 1776

What did I know of freedom, of all the wild talk of independence that summer of 1776?

Ned is just a boy helping his mother run their boardinghouse the summer that a tall, thin man named Mr. Jefferson comes to stay. He and other important colonists are there for the Congress in Philadelphia, to debate their charges against King George in England, which have erupted into a violent war.

As Mr. Jefferson spends night

after night writing in his room, Ned forgets the simple things he wants, like a new cap, and thinks instead about the extraordinary idea everyone is starting to talk about -- freedom -- and the incredible changes it might soon bring to their lives.

With hauntingly beautiful words and historically accurate paintings, when mr. jefferson came to philadelphia combines the fictional character of Ned with authentic details about Thomas Jefferson's lodging during the writing of the Declaration of Independence to create a powerfully moving portrait of the spirit that fueled our nation's birth.

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About the Author:

Ann Turner is the author of many novels, picture books, and poetry collections for young children. Her novel a hunter comes home was an ALA Notable Children's Book, and her first picture book, Dakota Dugout, received the same honor. Among her other books are abe lincoln remembers, an NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People; Drummer Boy; Rosemary's Witch, a School Library Journal Best Book; Through Moon and Stars and Night Skies, a Reading Rainbow selection; and two poetry books, A Lion's Hunger and Learning to Swim, which were both ALA Best Books for Young Adults. Ms. Turner lives in Williamsburg, Massachusetts, with her husband and two children.

In Her Own Words ...

I was one of those children who sniffed, slept on, and sometimes ate books. Once a week my father would go to the library and bring back seven books, one for each day of the week. I would open my mouth like a baby bird to devour food. I really think I would have died, had I not had books.

I wrote my first story when I was eight, about a dragon and a dwarf named Puckity. I still have it and use it when talking to children. The story shows that children have tales to tell, and ones worth telling. I was encouraged in my writing through school and college, but was afraid I could not do it. I trained as a teacher and taught for one year, but quickly decided that I would rather write books than teach them. I tried my hand at poetry for two years and had one poem published.

It wasn't until my mother, an artist, suggested that we do a book together about vultures that I tried writing for children. So my first book was about natural history, and I loved learning about vultures and watching them in Florida.

The queerest thing about writing is how a story chooses you, instead of you choosing it. I often feel as if I am walking along quietly, minding my own business, when a story creeps up behind me and taps me on the shoulder. "Tell me, show me, write me!" it whispers in my ear. And if I don't tell that story, it wakes me up in the morning, shakes me out of my favorite afternoon nap, and insists upon being told.

Writers write for the same reason readers read - to find out the end of the story. I never know the endings of my stories when I start out; I must wrestle my way through them, punching out unnecessary words, arguing with self-important paragraphs, until I arrive at the end thirsty, tired, but victorious. This tells you, of course, that writing is not easy for me. Once in a blue moon it is, but most of the time it is hard, hard work. And I work every day. I sit down at my computer and write. It could be about anything, or anyone - my husband, Rick, my children Ben and Charlotte, or the woods that surround our house in Williamsburg, Massachusetts.

Remember that you have stories to tell, too. Remember that you have a voice that is worth being heard. Write your stories down, keep journals. Learn to be a spy. I am a nosy, curious spy who eavesdrops on people at the beach, or as they stroll along at the mall. I always wonder; "Why is she walking so fast? Is she mad? How come his mouth looks like that? What is that lady saying to her child?" If you keep your eyes and ears open, you will see that you are surrounded by drama and astonishing things, even in the midst of everyday life. Notice it; write it down, and who knows, maybe someday you will be a writer, too.

From School Library Journal:

Grade 1-4--A boy relates his feelings and the events of the summer of 1776, when Thomas Jefferson lodges with his family while attending the Continental Congress. Ned watches the "important man" as he gives speeches and works on the Declaration of Independence. He is especially interested in a gadget of Mr. Jefferson's, a thermometer that registers 68 degrees on the 4th of July. After struggling with his fears about the effects of war on his own safety and that of his family, the boy finally becomes inspired by Jefferson's words. Hess's idealized oil paintings serve the stirring text well. Each spread is filled with historical details, bright colors, action, and emotion. This rousing picture book will appeal to history buffs and make a fine supplement to Revolutionary War units and patriotic programs. It can be paired with Turner's Katie's Trunk (Macmillan, 1992) and Jean Fritz's George Washington's Breakfast (Puffin, 1998).--Beth Tegart, Oneida City Schools, NY
Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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