How "America's Favorite Fighting Frenchman" Helped Win our Independence
ABOUT THIS BOOK
So, listen up, my children and I'll do my best to tell
How a teenaged French aristocrat served all of us so well.
So begins this short, playful, rhyming narrative describing the huge role the young Marquis de Lafayette played in our fight for independence.
Inspired by Longfellow's "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, not to mention the smash hit Broadway show Hamilton, Liberty-Loving Lafayette is told in rhyming couplets.
This poetic rendition of history can be used in classrooms to teach young Americans about General Lafayette, the French Alliance, and the American Revolution.
It can also be performed in classrooms or larger venues as an entertaining short (15 minute) piece dramatizing important American history.
WHAT YOU WILL LEARN FROM THIS BOOK
Who the unlikely person was who
inspired Lafayette to help America
How Lafayette's powerful father-in-law
tried to discourage his plan
Why such a high rank was given
to an inexperienced 19-year-old
How Lafayette helped strengthen
the crucial French Alliance
What Lafayette's key successes were
as a military commander in America
INTERIOR SITE LINKS
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Young Adult Nonfiction
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Book of the Year Awards
"A perfect example of how a writer can make history/learning history fun. . .the accompanying art is wonderful." —David Bruce Smith, author of Abigail and John, founder of the Grateful American Foundation, and co-founder of the Grateful American Book Prize
"An ode to the great Lafayette, beautifully told and richly illustrated" —Alan R. Hoffman, Translator,
Lafayette in America in 1824 and 1825: Journal of a Voyage to the United States, and President, The American Friends of Lafayette
"A great addition to the [Lafayette] canon"—Diane Shaw, Director Emerita of Special Collections & College Archives, Lafayette College
"Dorothea Jensen brings Lafayette to life for all ages"—Chuck Schwam, American Friends of Lafayette Publisher
This children's book celebrates the contributions of Marquis de Lafayette to the American Revolution in rhyming verse.
A quotation from Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical Hamilton serves this book both as an epigraph and a tip of the hat to that production's engaging, modernized portrayal of Lafayette, "America's favorite fighting Frenchman."
Jensen, who has also written several works of historical fiction for children as well as Christmas stories, provides a similarly fresh take on Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier de Lafayette and his career, beginning when he was a teenager:
"Young Lafayette had dinner with the British king's bro, / Who told him the Americans were 'good to go.' " Here as elsewhere, the
information sketched out in the verse is explained more completely in the endnotes. In this case, readers can learn the
date, full name of the king's "bro," and Lafayette's recorded reaction to the conversation.
The verses go on to describe Lafayette's career as he made his way to the Colonies and joined the Revolutionary Army. He became a major general, distinguished himself in several battles and missions, was wounded, served and befriended Washington, won support from France, and played a decisive role in the Siege of Yorktown.
Jensen's deft rhymes and meters generally work well throughout, as when describing Lafayette's voyage to America: "He endured the trip across despite some nasty mal de mer, / And learned a bit of English by the time he landed there."
While enjoyable on its own, the book is a useful resource with its historical paintings, glossary, bibliography, and endnotes. These are clear, informative, and full of intriguing tidbits, such as noting the "extremely close friendship between the fatherless Lafayette and the childless Washington."
The verse also has performance potential for educational events.
A well-written, multipurpose war-hero story that's both entertaining and instructive.—Kirkus Reviews
To read this on the Kirkuls Reviews website, click here.
Lin Manuel-Miranda's Tony award-winning Hamilton made household names of historical figures audiences previously hadn't known much about. Jensen carries the torch with her second book for young readers (after the YA novel A Buss From Lafayette) about the hero of the American Revolutionary War. In engaging rhyming verse possibly inspired by the musical, Jensen details how the French marquis wound up in the American colonies and got caught up in the war. She peppers the text with modern slang ("bro") and French phrases ("mal de mer") while historic paintings, portraits, maps, and engravings (Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun's sumptuous study of Marie Antoinette; Emanuel Leutze's dramatic Washington Rallying the Troops at Monmouth) bring to life the tale's cast and milieu.
The lighthearted storytelling still underscores the subject's significance–"Without him we would not have won our Independency," Jensen writes, rhyming independency with liberty. However, the balance between historical authenticity, approachable language, and rhyme scheme fidelity can be precarious and sometimes gets lost. The text refers to Lafayette by multiple names (Gilbert, "the marquis") which can be confusing given the plethora of characters, both British and French, featured in the story. Page layouts and the positioning of the period images often interrupts that most crucial element of rhymed, rhythmic storytelling: the flow.
This narrative is meant to be read aloud—and would be a valuable companion for classrooms and projects—showcasing its enjoyable blend of history and rhythm. Jensen proves scrupulous in keeping the text factual, digging into the political realities behind revolutionaries like George Washington embracing a French aristocrat, and her detailed end notes, offer concise explanations ("The French government feared having a 'celebrity' like Lafayette join the fight on the side of the Americans") that will help alleviate any audience perplexity. Young history lovers and fans will savor this playful rendition of Lafayette's biography, centered around historical documents and works of art.
Takeaway: Young history buffs will enjoy the rhyming text and historical art in this lively biography of the French hero of the American Revolution.
Great for fans of:
Jean Fritz's Why Not, Lafayette?,
Selene Castrovilla's Revolutionary Friends.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: A
Unique, Informative, and Unreservedly Recommended
Beautifully illustrated throughout, "Liberty-Loving Lafayette: How 'America's Favorite Fighting Frenchman' Helped Win Our Independence" is a unique, informative, and unreservedly recommended addition to middle school, high school, and community library American Revolution history collections for young readers ages 13-18 in general, and Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette supplemental curriculum studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Liberty-Loving Lafayette" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9780990940814, $10.99), and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99). —Midwest Book Review
A Must Read for Both Young and Old!
It is an established fact that most Americans who are interested in our history are older. One only has to be aware of the ages of the members of historical societies to be convinced of this.
Dorothea Jensen, however, specializes in making history come alive for the young - pre-teens and teenagers. In this her latest work, a short 50 page book, she tells the story of a French nobleman, the Marquis de Lafayette and his pivotal role in winning the American Revolution.
Her narrative starts with the nineteen year old Gilbert learning about the American struggle for freedom from the British, covers his important participation in the conflict and in bringing France into the war, and ends with his participation in the victory at Yorktown, Virginia.
To draw young people into the story, Dorothea richly illustrates her work, and presents the pertinent historical facts in rhyming verse. As you read, you can actually experience the rhythm of a rap performer.
Knowing that the young may have short spans of attention. Dorothea quickly imparts the key points of the story in rhyme. Then she supplements her work with a glossary of terms, and, for those interested, provides comprehensive end notes for each verse detailing the action.
As a life member of the American Friends of Lafayette, and a researcher for The Lafayette Trail Project, I can assure readers that Dorothea covers all the bases of this important story with historical accuracy while making it fun to experience.
A must read for the young (and old) 5 Stars—John Becica, Goodreads Review
Learning history can be fun!
This book is the perfect cross curricular lesson waiting to happen. Social Studies, English Language Arts and Music, students will love it. . .When time in the classroom is precious, Jensen, has handed teachers the structure for teaching the Revolutionary War in verse. Learning history can be fun! 5 Stars —C.Powell, Amazon
Very good introduction to the history of Lafayette. 5 STARS —Stephan Patterson. Amazon Review
Someone Should Make A Play or Musical Out of This Book!
I LOVE this book! It's great for adults as well as young people. What a fantastic homage to Lafayette, who's been on our minds so much lately because of his appearances in Hamilton. I love how this book wonderfully encapsulates history with its vivid Lafayette portrayal, and how the author achieves this in such a super-engaging way, through witty, clever rhyme and poetry. And I love its multimedia approach – poetry, history, reproductions of gorgeous historical paintings. It's extraordinary the amount of accurate and sophisticated historical narrative the author fits into this wonderful book and how much the reader learns about this fascinating and important figure in American history. I learned so much about exactly who the heck Lafayette was and what he did for the American cause. Very cool, to know this, and to be entertained to boot. What a colorful figure Lafayette was! 5 Stars—M. Bancroft Johnson, Barnes & Noble Review
Brimming With Interest!
"Dorothea Jensen's latest book is a great read combining the history of Lafayette's essential role in the American Revolution with entertaining rhymes. It has interesting pictures throughout and much background information at the back, brimming with interest for readers young and old. Highly recommended." —L. Wise, Goodreads Review
Attention All U.S. History Teachers!
"As school begins this Fall in its various forms, I recommend that US history teachers add this clever and informative poem to their extra curricula assignments when teaching the history of the American Revolution. Ms. Jensen's poetic synopsis is packed with facts and is a fun method of highlighting the importance of Lafayette's contribution to the Patriots' success." —R. Hampe, Amazon Review
Whimsical Rhyming Narrative
"As a big fan of "A Buss From Lafayette," I was delighted to read Dorothea Jensen's next book, "Liberty-Loving Lafayette!" As a French American (1st Generation), I loved discovering even more about the young and dashing Lafayette. I am proud to know of his amazing – and very French – influence on the fight for American Independence. I also enjoyed Dorothea's use of her whimsical rhyming narrative to tell the tale!" 5 Stars—Allison Brevier, Amazon Review
It Was Amazing!
"I truly enjoyed reading Liberty-Loving Lafayette: How "America's Fighting Frenchman" Helped Win Our Independence by Dorothea Jensen. The clever verses make it easy to understand Lafayette's crucial contributions to the American Revolution in a very enjoyable and memorable way. It makes learning fun for all ages. Also the archival illustrations, the glossary and the notes greatly enriched the story.
This is a jewel of a book that parents and teachers will enjoy just as much as children and teenagers." —C. Pollak, Goodreads Review
A Great Classroom Rresource
Sometimes a rhyming narrative is just what you need to tell a story, especially if you include pictures. So Dorothea Jensen used this format to tell the story of General Lafayette's contribution to our nation's independence. Heavily researched, Dorothea's new book Liberty-Loving Lafayette presents in words and art the story of how the young Marquis De Lafayette came to the colonies in search of freedom and fought alongside the colonists until the end of the Revolutionary War.
Each left page of Jensen's work contains an image of a person or event portrayed in the narrative. The corresponding narrative relates the story. This book, designed for older students, can be used by teachers of the younger grades as well. It is a wonderful resource for any classroom, but especially for units of study about America's beginnings and fight for Independence.
Additionally, it is a wonderful companion piece to Jensen's award-winning middle-grade book A Buss from Lafayette.—Connie Huddleston, Award-Winning Author
A Fun Way to Learn
"A fun way to learn about an important piece of history and a key historical figure!"—G. Rix, Goodreads Review