February 25, 2016
Worst of Friends by Suzanne Tripp Jurmain, illustrated by Larry Day
Worst of Friends: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and the True Story of an American Feud
by Suzanne Tripp Jurmain
illustrated by Larry Day
Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were two very different people. Short, chubby John loved to tell jokes and be the center of attention. Tall, thin Jefferson liked to play the violin but almost never spoke in public. In many ways they were opposites but they were still best friends. They loved to spend time together just talking or helping each other out.
They worked together to help move America toward independence. John talked. Tom wrote the Declaration of Independence. Together they went to Europe to raise money to help the new government pay its bills and fight off its enemies.
But they didn’t agree on everything and it almost cost them their friendship. They didn’t agree on how strong the new president should be. eventually they ended up running again each other for President. They didn’t speak to each other for years.
Jurmain has done a fantastic job of showing how two people can agree on many things, truly like each other, and still be different in very big ways. It is an excellent example of how politics and other beliefs can come between people, even friends. It also shows that the name calling we see today isn’t new in any way.
Day’s illustrations help bring the story to life. I love the image where Tom is trying to get John to shush while he contemplates a chess move. They are detailed without being scientific and just cartoony enough to lighten the mood even when things are grim.
This book will generate a lot of discussion on whether or not they should have quit being friends and what they could have done to mend the break much sooner. An excellent book about history, politics, friendship and opinion.