George Washington: His Legacy
of Faith, Character, and Courage. By Demi, Ignatius
While many of the books
reviewed on this website are directed towards adults seeking to expand and
better understand their faith, this review will discuss a recently published
book aimed at shaping the spirituality and character of young people. In
this illustrated children’s book, the prolific author and artist Demi has
created a short biography of George Washington. Special focus is placed
on Washington’s leadership skills, moral views, and sense of honor, but Demi
places Washington’s religious faith at the heart of this book.
The book is mostly full of
imagery, consisting of Demi’s pictures, with about a paragraph of informative
text on each page, providing insight on some aspect of history. George
Washington opens with the following statement:
“The inspiring Legacy of
George Washington is one of faith, character, and courage. It is visible
through the many events told in this book. It began even before he was
born, with his ancestors who had been involved in key moments in British history.
George Washington certainly learned from their stories, as we can learn from
The first several pages cover
centuries of history, focusing on Washington’s ancestors and the inspirational
ways that several prominent members of his family tree shaped the character and
values of their descendant. Soon, the book moves into Washington’s own
career, highlighting certain incidents that shaped the future president’s
career. Heavy stress is placed on religious and spiritual points.
Though not a Catholic himself, Washington was inspired by a book on moral
behavior written by Jesuit priest when he was a young teenager.
Washington also prayed frequently, and once was inspired a miraculous vision–
the details of which serve as a pivotal moment in this mini-biography.
Interestingly, Demi’s book is
one of the latest entries in a developing paradigm shift in the study of the
religious views of the Founding Fathers. For generations, many
biographers minimized the role that religion played in their worldviews and
personal lives, stressing that most (though not all) of the Founding Fathers
had a largely Deist and skeptical perspective, and therefore had no real
interest in religious matters. This was by no means a universal
characterization, but it is still a prominently held belief in many historical
In a first for Catholic
Book Reviews Monthly, Demi has provided a brief interview regarding the
CHAN. How did
you get the idea to write this children's book about Washington?
DEMI. I was inspired to write George Washington
when I read of his celestial vision at Valley Forge, first published in The
National Tribune, Volume 4, No. 12, December 1880 and preserved in the
Library of Congress in Washington, DC.
CHAN. What sources did you use when researching
DEMI. My sources were every picture and book I could find on George
Washington. Some of my favorite books are:
Norristown, PA. Published for the Benefit of
Memorial Chapel, 1907.
George Washington, The
Christian, William J. Johnson, Arlington, Texas, Christian Liberty Press,
The Religious Opinions of
Washington, E.C. McGuire, ed., N.Y: Harper Brothers, 1836.
The Writings of George
Washington, Jared Sparks, Boston, Ferdinand Andrews Publisher, 1838.
A Concise History of the
American Republic, Samuel Eliot Morison, New York: Oxford University Press, 1958.
CHAN. What lessons/morals would you like
young children to learn from this book?
DEMI. Moral lessons that young children could
learn from this book would be to follow in the footsteps of George himself: At
the age of 13 George began copying and memorizing The Rules of Civility and
Decent Behavior, written by French Jesuit priests. These rules were meant
to train young men to serve God and neighbor. They helped form his sense of
right and wrong, his strong faith, and his upright nature. Besides morality,
faith and character, they also developed his marvelous qualities of patience,
humility, giving, discipline, vigor, meditation and wisdom.
CHAN. Is there anything about Washington that
you wanted to include but didn't for any reason?
DEMI. I would have loved to include ALL of
George Washington’s prayers written by himself for each day of the week; for mornings
and evenings. God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ was the Light of his life.
We simply didn’t have space
for them all in this book.
CHAN. What did you learn about Washington's
spiritual life as you researched and wrote this book?
DEMI. I learned about George Washington’s
powerful transcendental nature as I researched his spiritual life
George Washington is an
excellent introduction for young children to learn about the Founding
Father. Adults may discover certain details about the man’s life that
they were previously unaware of, and they may therefore be inspired to track
down other studies of Washington from the list mentioned earlier. Parents
and children will find George Washington a useful tool to help inspire a
love of history, and the man depicted in Demi’s book may well serve as a model
template for behavior and character for many kids.