In the author’s challenge to cram a lot of information into only 64 pages, the writing quality sometimes descends into a fast paced catalog of where John Quincy went and when and what he learned while there, and the offices he held from student to ambassador to secretary of state to president to representative. Details about his exciting and dangerous first voyage on the ship Boston to Paris, France and a menu of the celebratory dinner after John Quincy’s graduation from Harvard round out the narrative and give readers a sense of the times.
Describing him as man ahead of his times, Gherman reveals his love for science and abhorrence of slavery that made him unpopular, yet eventually came to pass. She convincingly portrays that his life in politics was truly a service to the people and to the United States.
The pencil illustrations add little to the text; some exciting scenes are described, and yet the artist always opts for tame. Rather than seeing the storm at sea, we get a tilted view of a cabin, and instead of a bickering Congress, we see John Quincy before the Supreme Court.
Although John Quincy kept many diaries and wrote extensively about his own life (over 60,000 papers and reports not including letters!), the only primary source listed in the bibliography is a collection of correspondence between he and his mother. All of the quotes appear to be from this source. No timeline or photos make this a secondary choice for school reports.
This review was originally published on the Hip Librarian’s Book Blog in September 2005.