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The Quite Contrary Man: A True American Tale
Contributor(s): Hyatt, Patricia Rusch, Brown, Kathryn (Illustrator)

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ISBN: 0810940655     ISBN-13: 9780810940659
Publisher: Harry N Abrams Inc
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Binding Type: School And Library
Published: May 2011
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Annotation: In nineteenth-century New England, Joseph Palmer flouts the law against wearing a beard and is accused by his fellow citizens of being unpatriotic and sinful, and stubbornly refuses to shave even when he's sent to jail.
Additional Information
Library of Congress Subjects:
Dissenters; New England; History; 19th century; Juvenile literature.
Beards; Social aspects; New England; History; 19th century; Juvenile literature.
Dissenters.
BISAC Categories:
- Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | Historical
- Juvenile Nonfiction | People & Places | United States
Dewey: 974/.03092
LCCN: 2009052211
Lexile Measure: 840
Academic/Grade Level: Grade 2-3, Age 7-8
Book type: Easy Non Fiction
Physical Information: 10.25" H x 9.50" W x 0.25" (1.00 lbs)
Accelerated Reader Info
Quiz #: 142176
Reading Level: 4.5   Interest Level: Lower Grades   Point Value: 0.5
Scholastic Reading Counts Info
Quiz #: Q52857
Reading Level: 4.5   Interest Level: Grades K-2   Point Value: 2.0
 
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.

Contributor Bio(s): style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">Patricia Rusch Hyatt is the author of Coast to Coast with Alice, about the first woman to drive across the United States, in 1909. She lives in New Jersey. Kathryn Brown has written and illustrated several highly regarded children's books. She lives in Massachusetts.



Reviewed by Horn Book Guide Reviews (Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Fall)
Hyatt tells the intriguing story of Joseph "Beard" Palmer, whose stubborn insistence on wearing a beard when facial hair was not de rigeur landed him in jail for a year. Brown's spirited illustrations offer a taste of New England in the early 1800s; their depiction of Palmer's extraordinarily long and bushy whiskers reflects his larger-than-life personality. A useful historical note is appended. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2011 March #4)

Hyatt (Coast to Coast with Alice) spotlights a little-known New England folk hero who ended up in jail because of his beard—and not just any old beard: "If Joseph Palmer faced the wind, his whopping whiskers swept over his shoulders and flapped down to his hip pockets." With this same tall-tale flair, the narrative maintains an alacritous tempo, beginning with the stubborn Palmer's babyhood (the opening vignette shows him ejecting blanket, bottle, and rattle from his cradle) and continuing through his day in court (after an altercation with townsmen who aimed to give him an unsolicited haircut), jail time, and eventual release. Brown's (Kisses on the Wind) warm-hued watercolors reiterate the folk yarn feel with rustic touches, such as the grapevine borders around the text. Even during Palmer's bleak imprisonment, his exaggerated mustache and beard flow prodigiously from behind bars, nearly touching the ground—a ready metaphor for freedom itself. An ending historical note provides background into the bald-faced fashion trend Palmer bucked, as well as the about-face that occurred soon after. A spirited introduction to an iconoclastic 19th-century activist. Ages 5–9. (May)

[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC

Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2011 March)

K-Gr 4—Joseph Palmer made his rather unusual mark on history sometime during the 1830s. Supposedly unique since his infancy, preferring gravy on his popcorn and vinegar on his pancakes, he chose to grow a long flowing beard when such things were very much frowned upon. Castigated by the townspeople of his New England village, even chastised from the pulpit, Palmer refused to shave. Accosted by some townspeople armed with barber's shears and a razor, he fought hard enough to thwart their intent to shave him. However, the men reported that it was Palmer who had attacked. He refused to pay the fine and was jailed for an entire year. When the sentence was up, Palmer refused to pay for the food he'd eaten and the coal he'd used, and refused to leave the jail. The jailer and the sheriff eventually carried him outside. Hyatt tells the story well, with good pacing, and Brown's well-designed watercolor and colored-pencil illustrations capture both the time period and the spirit of the tale. Whether Palmer deserves the appellation of folk "hero" is open to debate. He was, after all, jailed for assault, not for sporting the whiskers, and his refusal to pay the fine left his wife, his mother, and two young children to fend for themselves for a year. Was his refusal to shave an act of courage or one of hubris? Hyatt supplies an extensive author's note detailing the history behind the objections to beards and the change in attitude toward them when Abraham Lincoln grew his famous one. An interesting read-aloud and good discussion starter.—Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ

[Page 143]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
 
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