Big George

Big George

How a Shy Boy Became President Washington

By Anne Rockwell; Matt Phelan (Illustrator)

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), Hardcover, 9780152165833, 48pp.

Publication Date: January 2009


A boy from Virginia becomes the first president

Before he was the face on the dollar bill, George Washington was a shy boy with a hot temper. But George had character and adaptability. He taught himself courage and self-control. At an early age, and without really realizing it, George Washington gathered the qualities he’d need to become one of the greatest leaders America has ever known.
Anne Rockwell’s prose is dignified, Matt Phelan’s illustrations are striking, and the details they reveal about George Washington’s early days are fascinating, sometimes tragic, and always moving.

Includes an author’s note.

About the Author
ANNE ROCKWELL is the author of hundreds of books for children, including the distinguished picture book biography "Only Passing Through: The Story of Sojourner Truth, " an ALA Notable Children's Book. She lives in Greenwich, Connecticut. Visit her website at

MATT PHELAN's many books includeVery Hairy Bear by Alice Schertle and "The Storm in the Barn", winner of the Scott O'Dell Award. He lives in Philadelphia.

Praise For Big George

"The thin, swirling lines of Phelan’s soft pencil-and-gouache illustrations enhance the stirring narrative, often depicting people against their natural environment; his powerful use of shadow and light emphasizes Washington’s struggles and victories. Overall, a dynamic examination of one of America’s first leaders."Kirkus Reviews

"Perhaps as balance to the bicentennial emphasis on Abraham Lincoln comes this welcome new picture book biography of George Washington . . . This is an ideal introduction to the man for younger readers and listeners: nicely paced, admiring but not adulatory, and clear about his importance in history."Horn Book

"Rockwell gives us a whole man, from shy boy to country gentleman, reluctant battlefield hero to legendary leader, and Phelan’s bold, dynamic paintings capture the nuances. In an afterword, the author considers the "stain on the new nation’s flag," approaching Washington’s treatment of his slaves with candor and honesty. A fine biography that respects its audience as much as its subject."Booklist  "Rockwell's smooth storytelling and knack for economically rendered military episodes should connect well with elementary-grade children . . . Phelan's rough line and gouache pictures . . . are sophisticated enough to draw and retain the attention of independent readers."--Bulletin