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Big George: How A Shy Boy Became President Washington    by Anne Rockwell & Matt Phelan order for
Big George
by Anne Rockwell
Order:  USA  Can
Harcourt, 2009 (2009)

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Did you know that George Washington was shy? That he was over six feet tall? Anne Rockwell shares these and many more historical notes with young readers in Big George: How A Shy Boy Became President Washington. To fit the title, the book is also BIG!

After the death of his father when George was a young boy, he went to live with his brother Lawrence Washington, who lived at Mont Vernon. George's brother taught him 'everything a Virginia gentleman needed to know', and had a big library in which George read for hours, especially about ancient Roman heroes. George was good at sports, horseback riding, fencing, playing ball, and firing a musket. Just like brother Lawrence, George wanted to become a soldier.

With his aptitude for drawing and mathematics, at age sixteen George became a surveyor and mapmaker for the British king. In 1775 George joined the king's soldiers to fight the French under English General Edward Braddock. George was respected by all his peers as he grew not only in height, but in popularity as a natural-born leader. George returned to Mont Vernon to his deceased brother's farm and married Martha Curtis, a widow with two children. But he didn't stay on the farm for very long as another war came to the colonists in America, in retaliation against unfair laws. In Lexington, Massachusetts the colonists (shopkeepers, schoolboys, and farmers) won their first battle, but there were more to come.

They needed a strong leader and George Washington was chosen as their General. In 1776 on Christmas Day, the General and 2,400 soldiers 'camped on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River'. It was a very cold winter as the soldiers dug trenches into the snow, and George worked along with them. Supplies of food and warm clothing were very low, and when it came to the attention of America's diplomat in Paris, Benjamin Franklin, action was taken to send more to the army.

Anne Rockwell provides useful information that is a pleasure to read about George Washington's life, and how a shy boy grew up and was encouraged to become the first President of the United States. The author has written hundreds of books for children, among including picture-book biographies, such as They Called Her Molly Pitcher and Only Passing Through: The Story of Sojourner Truth. With the use of muted colors and free-flowing pencil sketches, Matt Phelan's illustrations and life-size characters are a delight to look at. I love this book, and recommend it as a fine addition to any library, or for adults to read along with young readers.

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