Worst of Friends – Perfect Picture Book Friday

7 Nov

I combed through Susanna Leonard Hills nonfiction picture books and couldn’t believe “Worst of Friends”  hadn’t been reviewed! So here goes…

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“Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were the best of friends, even though they were completely different.”

They shared similar ideas about how the thirteen colonies should become a nation—until they stopped seeing eye to eye on the powers granted the president. Thus begins a legendary feud between the Federalist Party and the Republican Party.

What happens to their friendship? Well, I guess you just have to read the book if you don’t know.

The illustrations, including George Washington eating dinner calmly between JA and TJ while they argue, should bring smiles to children’s (and adults’) faces.

And the ending? Well, the truth rivals anything a fiction writer could ever dream up. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams die on the same day, July 4, 1826, the 50th birthday of America’s independence

I love this story. It makes me cry every time I read it. Sniffle….

The extensive bibliography will guide children’s further research into the lives of these two men, and its hilarious foreword titled: “Can Presidents be Pals?” should pull readers into the story.  It’s appropriate for grades K-5.

Themes: U.S. History. Friends who are very different can work together. It’s good to extend an olive branch to a friend before it’s too late. 

TItle: Worst of Friends
Author: Suzanne Tripp Jurmain
Illustrator: Larry Day
Pub date: 2011
Publisher: Dutton, a division of Penguin

32 Responses to “Worst of Friends – Perfect Picture Book Friday”

  1. Letizia November 7, 2014 at 5:05 pm #

    The cover is great so I can only imagine how creative the illustrations inside must be.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann November 7, 2014 at 5:14 pm #

      Yes, there are some very funny moments. The illustrator must have had a blast creating the drawings.

      I think it’s a great way to help kids “inhabit” those times and empathize with how these two men must have felt about their friendship and enormous disagreement.

      • Letizia November 7, 2014 at 5:27 pm #

        Do you sketch? I know your son does so perhaps he got his talents from you, I wonder.

        • Jilanne Hoffmann November 7, 2014 at 11:38 pm #

          I draw a little, but my husband is the artist. He and our son can draw rings around me. 😀

        • Letizia November 8, 2014 at 3:52 am #

          An artistic family- lovely 🙂

  2. Carrie Rubin November 7, 2014 at 5:30 pm #

    Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll have to check it out for my nephew. 🙂

    • Jilanne Hoffmann November 7, 2014 at 11:37 pm #

      Yes! My 11-yr-old son thinks it’s quite funny. And he actually learned something while he was laughing.

  3. FictionFan November 8, 2014 at 8:04 am #

    Knowing almost no American history, you’ve left me on a cliffhanger ending here! What happens?? Why do you always sniffle?? I need to know…

    • Jilanne Hoffmann November 8, 2014 at 10:31 am #

      Here’s the mini-series that you could watch. It is excellent.


      • FictionFan November 8, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

        Thanks, I shall look out for it – it’s bound to turn up on one of the 5,000,000 TV channels I never get around to watching. Meantime, I read him up on wiki – yes, quite a sniffle-worthy story indeed. I wonder if Clinton and Dubya correspond? 😉

        • Jilanne Hoffmann November 10, 2014 at 12:07 am #

          The foreword to the book mentions that GW called Bill Clinton a real “friend.” So they probably maintain some form of correspondence. Other presidents have not had such chummy relationships. In another quote from the foreword: “President Truman once called Richard Nixon a “shifty-eyed…liar.” Ha! 😀

      • julie rowan zoch November 9, 2014 at 9:28 pm #

        I was going to mention this series too! Look forward to reading this book. Thanks!

        • Jilanne Hoffmann November 10, 2014 at 12:03 am #

          Yes, the series is quite good, isn’t it?

          I think you’ll enjoy the book. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Joanne Roberts November 8, 2014 at 6:36 pm #

    I just found out about this book last week, but haven’t read it. Thank-you! One can never have too much John Adams!

    • Jilanne Hoffmann November 8, 2014 at 6:48 pm #

      Oh, I think you will like it. Get thee to the library! 😀
      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Patricia Tilton November 9, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

    My kind of book. Had not heard of this book before your review. I loved both characters and I imagine they found a way to become friends. Will have to read it to find out.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann November 9, 2014 at 3:48 pm #

      Please do! It’s a great story. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. thiskidreviewsbooks November 9, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

    As a history buff, I’m gone. Gone to the library, that is! 😉

    • Jilanne Hoffmann November 9, 2014 at 3:50 pm #

      Oh, Erik, it is great fun. I think you would love the illustrations and the story. Check it out, literally. 😀

  7. Diane Tulloch November 10, 2014 at 5:08 am #

    Interesting book! I wasn’t into history when back at school although I knew about Thomas Jefferson. Must look this up and see if our library has it. Thanks. Great review!

    • Jilanne Hoffmann November 10, 2014 at 9:09 am #

      Yes, I wasn’t a history buff, either, as a kid. I think it was because all of the history for children wasn’t as well written and researched as it is now. I’m loving these “new gen” history books! Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Sue Heavenrich November 10, 2014 at 5:34 pm #

    they were the best of friends, the worst of friends…. like any good friends. I am definitely putting this on my “read now” list.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann November 10, 2014 at 9:35 pm #

      Yay! Yes, like any good friends, although more high profile than most. 😀

      Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoy the book.

  9. heylookawriterfellow November 11, 2014 at 6:57 am #

    I was a fan of John Adams before It was cool. This might be a good way to pass on my Adams admiration to the next Allegra generation…

    • Jilanne Hoffmann November 11, 2014 at 10:13 am #

      Yes, yes, yes!! Just leave the book lying on the floor of his room in a pile of Lego. He can find it like buried treasure. 😀

      • heylookawriterfellow November 11, 2014 at 10:40 am #

        I like your thinking. I also wanna introduce my little guy to the musical 1776.

  10. Kate Johnston November 12, 2014 at 4:16 am #

    Sounds like a great book — another one for me to search for to have my son read. BTW, I was able to find Nurse, Soldier, Spy. I have to get it from another library — our local library didn’t have it, gasp! I’ll let you know how we like it!

    • Jilanne Hoffmann November 12, 2014 at 9:42 am #

      Cool! You can also ask to have your library buy the book. I find the library here very open to suggestions.

      Hope you and your son like it!

  11. Mrs. P November 22, 2014 at 9:16 am #

    John Adams was just one of those guys who bumped heads into various people through out his life. He and Ben Franklin didn’t see eye to eye on many things as well.

    This sounds like a book for me to read, though your comment about making you cry surprised me as I wasn’t expecting a tear jerker from this title.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann November 22, 2014 at 10:16 am #

      It’s the circumstances of both their deaths that’s the kicker for me. Uncanny.

  12. Julie November 23, 2014 at 9:25 am #

    Thanks for reviewing this book, Jill! I had never heard of it and am definitely going to get it for our library. I LOVED the mini-series.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann November 23, 2014 at 10:44 am #

      Oh, you will love it! I promise! It’s soooo good to hear from you!

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