Thomas Jefferson: A Day at Monticello

Author:  Elizabeth V. Chew
Illustrator:  Mark Elliott

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I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit Monticello as a child, and still have many lasting memories of that day.  One of the three things that remain most vivid to me were the immense, beautiful gardens which Jefferson had maintained so carefully.

“Jefferson keeps up with the world of plants by exchanging information with his network of pen pals, both in the United States and across the Atlantic Ocean.  Fellow gardeners regularly send him seeds or plant cuttings, which he experiments with at Monticello.  Peas are always the first vegetable he sows each year.  He loves fresh spring peas and competes with his friends to see who can be the first to bring peas to the table.”

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Even as a child I loved to read, so when I entered his Book Room, or library, I could hardly believe my eyes.  Jefferson was a man with vast and varying interests. His library contained about 7,000 volumes ranging from architecture to zoology.  He believed that through learning and gaining knowledge, people could govern themselves, solve problems, and improve the world around them.

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My third memory of that day is one that is quite personal and dear to me.   My mother was quite impressed with the Jefferson china and purchased a replica cup and saucer.  Today that piece of china is mine, reminding me both of my lovely mother and the memorable day my family spent visiting the home of our country’s third President.

This book follows Jefferson through one typical day in his life in the spring of 1813.   The engaging text is based on Jefferson’s own letters, as well as his journals.   Combined with detailed illustrations are both archival images and photographs of the plantation.  This is truly a remarkable and interesting book.

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