Revolutionary Friends: General George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette

illus. by Drazen Kozjan. 40p. bibliog. chron. further reading. glossary. reprods. websites. Boyds Mills/Calkins Creek. Apr. 2013. RTE $16.95. ISBN 978-1-59078-880-6. LC 2012949044.
Gr 3–5—The Marquis de Lafayette is famous for helping George Washington and the Continental Army defeat the British. The idea of exploring the development of his relationship with the American general in picture-book form is intriguing, but while this version is long on historical content, it is short on flair. The research is admirable. Direct quotations from Lafayette are featured on almost every page, and lists of sources and places to visit, as well as time lines of the men's lives, provide excellent historical background. However, these figures do not come to life. The author concentrates on Lafayette arriving in America, becoming part of Washington's army, and proving his mettle at the Battle of Brandywine. The large illustrations end when Washington visits the wounded Lafayette and instructs the doctor to care for him "as if he were my son," demonstrating the real affection that developed between them. However, the account goes on for three more pages, illustrated by much smaller images. The awkward transition complicates the book's ability to find an audience. Younger readers who are drawn to the picture-book format may lose interest in the text-heavy later part, while older students studying the Revolutionary War may find the book too simplistic for their needs. The pen-and-ink illustrations with digital coloring are appealing for the most part, but they have an odd flatness that detracts from their overall effect. Spreads that should have depth and a vanishing point seem more one-dimensional than two. French phrases incorporated into the text are defined at the end of the book, not in context, which may be cumbersome for some readers.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA

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