Synopses & Reviews
In early-nineteenth-century New England, folks considered a clean chin a sign of godliness. Born into this buttoned-up, strict society, Joseph Palmer stood out from childhood as someone who liked to do things his own way. A friend to Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Alcotts, Palmer lived by his own code and grew a belly-flowing beard that made his neighbors so crazy that they tried forcibly to shave him. He fought back and ended up in prison for a year. His cause became a local sensation, and a few short decades later a president of the United Statesand#8212;Abraham Lincolnand#8212;would wear a beard.and#160;
Narrated with the charm of a tall tale, this true story celebrates the long American history of nonconformity and encourages children to question social rules they may take for granted.
Praise for Quite Contrary Man
and#8220;She [Hyatt] cleanly lays out a morality tale that could prompt a healthy civics lesson. Brown's arch illustrations, in watercolor with pen and ink, nicely capture 19th-century New England.and#8221;and#160;
and#8220;Brownand#8217;s warmhued watercolors reiterate the folk yarn feel with rustic touches. A spirited introduction to an iconoclastic 19th-century activist.and#8221; and#8211;Publishers Weekly
"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)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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, stubbornly refusing to shave even when he is sent to jail.
About the Author
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.