Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks. ~ Dr. Seuss

Thomas Jefferson, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything

line Thomas Jefferson, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything
by Maira Kalman (Author, Illustrator)


We all know Thomas Jefferson for his writing of the Declaration of Independence. But who knew that there was so much more to know about him. In “Thomas Jefferson, Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Everything”, award winning author and illustrator, Maria Kalman portrays Thomas Jefferson, as a linguist, scientist, mathematician and architect!

The book opens to a bright, vibrant colorful illustration showing “red-haired” Thomas Jefferson with a book looking out at the plantations where he was born, Virginia. Thomas was well known as the third president of the United States. But he really was a scholar, a person who was curious and wanted to learn about everything!

Thomas Jefferson Life LIberty and pursuit of everything introduction

Thomas Jefferson loved to read and he read about everything. He read about shoes, bees, cheese , history, science and so much more. “I cannot live without books” was his motto. He was passionate about building his home, a place he imagined would allow light and air to flow through. A home surrounded by green pastures, various flora and fauna. He went on to build his home in Virigina and called it Monticello.

Thomas Jefferson Life LIberty and pursuit of everything home

Over the next few pages, we discover the many things that he was passionate about. Author Maria Kalman gives us a glimpse of into Jefferson’s daily life. How he loved collecting Native American art and made his house a museum showcasing things that he loved. How his vegetable garden was his pride and a place to be happy. And how he would make time for music and practiced almost 3 hours a day.

Following this “sneek peak”, Maria then introduces Thomas Jefferson as a president and his accomplishments in the office.

Thomas Jefferson Life LIberty and pursuit of everything Louisiana Purchase

What I was more intrigued about was how Maria handled the topics of slavery and his relationship with Sally Hemings. This is a picture book clearly aimed at a younger audience, ages 5+. Considering the age group, Maria does a fantastic job in introducing the idea of slavery and her thoughts behind what Thomas Jefferson felt.

She also introduces Sally Hemings as a beautiful lady “with whom Jefferson had children with”. When I read this out with daughter, I didn’t get a whole lot of questions. The later part describes “To hide your background is a very sad thing”.. Maria describes how many people had to pretend to be someone with lighter skin. This part evoked a lot of emotion and conversation starters for us.

Our favorite part was the last page. The book ends with a note “If you want to understand this country and its people and what it means to be optimistic and complex and tragic and wrong and courageous, you need to go to Monticello..maybe you will lie down and thing about “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything”.

A brilliant introduction to the iconic Thomas Jefferson.

Find  it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books


  1. Sounds like a lot of great information packed in there! I had a student bring me an “I cannot live without books” magnet after a trip to Monticello – she knew me well. I also appreciate that it sounds like the book did not gloss over some of the aspects of his life that are often left out of books for children. Loved finding this through the Kid Lit Blog Hop!

    • reshamad

      Me too. The hop always introduces me to new material! thanks for stopping by.

  2. stanleyandkatrina

    WOW!!! Must…. get… this… book. Thank you for sharing on the #KidLitBlogHop – and for hosting!
    ~Cool Mom for the Gang

  3. Being a high school teacher, I’ve missed all these historical books (and a lot more) for young readers. Thanks for introducing me to another good one!

    • reshamad

      This was especially beautifully illustrated! thanks for stopping by Cheryl.

  4. Wonderful! I hadn’t heard of this book. It sounds very informative and the illustrations are bright and fun. I’m adding this to our reading list. It’s a pleasure to connect with you on the Kid Lit Blog Hop!

  5. Renee @ Mother Daughter Book Reviews

    I love the format of the book and how they chose to present the information – totally kid-friendly!! Thanks for sharing your wonderful recommendation in the Kid Lit Blog Hop!

  6. Oh fabulous! I love these illustrations, and I would imagine it would be intriguing for young readers. You always have the best selections!


Leave a Reply