No Small Potatoes: Junius G. Groves and His Kingdom in Kansas
No Small Potatoes: Junius G. Groves and His Kingdom in Kansas
Publisher's Hardcover15.59
$15.59
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Annotation: The life of Junius G. Groves, a sharecropper in Kansas who grew a modest potato farm into a potato kingdom.
Genre: [Biographies]
Catalog Number: #167536
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Illustrator: Tate, Don,
Pages: 40
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-385-75276-8
ISBN 13: 978-0-385-75276-3
Dewey: 921
LCCN: 2017043196
Dimensions: 25 x 31 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
Dynamo book creators come together to tell a long overdue story, the hero of which is introduced through the laid-back text: "One Potato. Two Potato. Thirty-Eleven Million Potatoes? Is that how many potatoes Junius George Groves grew? . . . not exactly [but] he sure grew piles and piles of spuds." Born into slavery in Kentucky, Groves headed west following Reconstruction, finding work on a Kansas potato farm and overcoming naysayers to become the "Potato King of the World." Along with his crop, he grew a family, a community, and a fortune, becoming one of the most successful African Americans of his time, all of which Tate shows through engaging mixed-media cartoon-style art. Text boxes share direct quotes, allowing Groves to speak in his own voice, and back matter includes source notes and a time line that helps flesh out the history. Far more than a tale of tubers, this is an inspiring account of hard work and a wonderful picture-book biography of a self-made farmer.
Horn Book
Bolden spotlights the life, work, and legacy of African American farmer and businessman Groves, born into slavery, who became known as the "Potato King of the World." As a free man, he worked on a Kansas potato farm and, over time, built an empire. Bolden's use of alliteration and folksy language lightens the fact-packed narrative. Quotes from Groves fill boxed insets in Tate's unpretentious, sunny-hued art. Timeline. Bib., glos.
Kirkus Reviews
Junius G. Groves, named "Potato King of the World" by the United States Department of Agriculture in 1902, was the richest black man "living between the Missouri River and the Rockies," according to the Indianapolis Recorder.This entertaining biography celebrates an African-American hero born into slavery in the late 1850s in Kentucky who realized his dreams for himself and eventually for his large family. Settling in the Great Kaw Valley, Kansas, Junius began working on a potato farm for 40 cents a day, "almost starvation wages," but he was determined to own a farm one day. First renting their land, Junius and his wife, Matilda, worked hard and saved, buying 80 acres in 1884 and paying off the balance in a year with the help of their three sons. Eventually he bought over 500 acres on which he grew 72,150 bushels—roughly 12 million potatoes—in one year, 1902. With 12 children and lots of hired hands, Junius built Groves Park, the community of Groves Center, a church, a store, and even a golf course. Every few pages, a sidebar punctuates Bolden's chatty, colloquial narrative with words from Groves himself. The mixed-media illustrations, awash in blues, greens, and browns, successfully represent the expansiveness of the land and the momentous nature of Groves' accomplishments. A glossary, a timeline, and other helpful backmatter make this an excellent research resource for teachers and students alike.This a-peel-ing story will give readers a new appreciation for spuds. (Picture book/biography. 5-8)
School Library Journal Starred Review
K-Gr 3 Bolden has written a delightful picture book biography of Junius G. Groves, who was born into slavery in 1859 but went on to create an agricultural empire that earned him the title "Potato King of the World" in 1902. As part of the mass exodus of African Americans from the South after the Civil War, Groves left Kentucky and settled in Kansas. There he educated himself in the science of agriculture and successfully built a vast potato growing empire that made him one of the richest men in his time. Bolden retells this tale of a life of hard work and lasting influence in a narrative peppered with alliterative, and occasionally rhyming, phrases: "Exodusters journeyed by steamboat, by train, in bumpety-bump oxcarts, in wide-wheeled wagons." Quotes from Groves's diary are set in text boxes throughout the book: "It was several weeks before I could get work on a farm, and when I finally did secure a place, it was at almost starvation wages, 40 cents per day." Tate successfully matches the energy of the text with engaging cartoon artwork, done in mixed media with a palette of sandy browns and bright greens, which thoughtfully depict Groves and his family. VERDICT A charming mix of biography, history, agriculture, math, and lots of potatoesa great addition to nonfiction collections. Carole Phillips, Greenacres Elementary School, Scarsdale, NY
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Junius G. Groves, named "Potato King of the World" by the United States Department of Agriculture in 1902, was the richest black man "living between the Missouri River and the Rockies," according to the Indianapolis Recorder.This entertaining biography celebrates an African-American hero born into slavery in the late 1850s in Kentucky who realized his dreams for himself and eventually for his large family. Settling in the Great Kaw Valley, Kansas, Junius began working on a potato farm for 40 cents a day, "almost starvation wages," but he was determined to own a farm one day. First renting their land, Junius and his wife, Matilda, worked hard and saved, buying 80 acres in 1884 and paying off the balance in a year with the help of their three sons. Eventually he bought over 500 acres on which he grew 72,150 bushels—roughly 12 million potatoes—in one year, 1902. With 12 children and lots of hired hands, Junius built Groves Park, the community of Groves Center, a church, a store, and even a golf course. Every few pages, a sidebar punctuates Bolden's chatty, colloquial narrative with words from Groves himself. The mixed-media illustrations, awash in blues, greens, and browns, successfully represent the expansiveness of the land and the momentous nature of Groves' accomplishments. A glossary, a timeline, and other helpful backmatter make this an excellent research resource for teachers and students alike.This a-peel-ing story will give readers a new appreciation for spuds. (Picture book/biography. 5-8)
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Word Count: 1,841
Reading Level: 4.8
Interest Level: K-3
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.8 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 198037 / grade: Lower Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.4 / points:2.0 / quiz:Q76264
Lexile: AD920L
Guided Reading Level: U
Fountas & Pinnell: U

Discover the incredible true story of how one of history's most successful potato farmers began life as a slave and worked until he was named the "Potato King of the World"!

Junius G. Groves came from humble beginnings in the Bluegrass State. Born in Kentucky into slavery, freedom came when he was still a young man and he intended to make a name for himself. Along with thousands of other African Americans who migrated from the South, Junius walked west and stopped in Kansas. Working for a pittance on a small potato farm was no reason to feel sorry for himself, especially when he's made foreman. But Junius did dream of owning his own farm, so he did the next best thing. He rented the land and worked hard! As he built his empire, he also built a family, and he built them both on tons and tons and tons of potatoes. He never quit working hard, even as the naysayers doubted him, and soon he was declared Potato King of the World and had five hundred acres and a castle to call his own.

From award winning author Tonya Bolden and talented illustrator Don Tate comes a tale of perseverance that reminds us no matter where you begin, as long as you work hard, your creation can never be called small potatoes.


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