No Small Potatoes: Junius G. Groves and His Kingdom in Kansas

By: Tonya Bolden

Illustrator: Don Tate

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.

Biographical time line. Glossary. Notes. Selected sources. Full-color mixed media illustrations.

ISBN: 9780385752770

JLG Release: Dec 2018


Sensitive Areas: None
Topics: Junius G , Groves (1859–1925) , Biography , African American farmers , Potato growers , US slaves , Edwardsville, Kansas , Exoduster Movement , Sharecropping , Community development , Perseverance , Financial success

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Awards & Honors

CCBC Choices 2019 Choice: Historical People, Places, and Events

Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

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Horn Book

This informational picture book spotlights the life, work, and legacy of African American farmer and businessman Junius G. Groves (1858?–1925), known as the “Potato King of the World.” Groves was born into slavery in Kentucky and freed as a child in 1865 when the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified. As a young man, he relocated to Kansas with o This informational picture book spotlights the life, work, and legacy of African American farmer and businessman Junius G. Groves (1858?–1925), known as the “Potato King of the World.” Groves was born into slavery in Kentucky and freed as a child in 1865 when the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified. As a young man, he relocated to Kansas with other “Exodusters.” He found work on a potato farm; saved money; rented—and later purchased—land; and over time, built a potato empire. Groves’s success helped grow his family, his estate, and an entire community. Bolden’s use of alliteration and folksy language (“Junius G. could so easily have pitied himself over his piddling pay, but he didn’t”) lighten the fact-packed narrative, which includes “Potato Math” as added context (“1 bushel = about 60 pounds / 1 pound = about 3 potatoes”). Quotes from Groves fill boxed insets in Tate’s unpretentious art, mostly expansive double-page spreads rendered in sunny, gentle hues that evoke the Great Plains setting. The risks and challenges Groves faced are presented in a straightforward fashion, and his success is attributed to hard work and sacrifice. Bolden’s word choices (for example, “they say that he…”) acknowledge some of the limitations of known historical information. Back matter includes an artist’s note (in which Tate recounts research that revealed that a landowner from whom Groves purchased eighty acres was a Native businesswoman), a glossary, source notes, selected sources, and a timeline. elisa gall

Book Details

ISBN

9780385752770

First Release

December 2018

Genre

Nonfic

Dewey Classification

Trim Size

9 1/2" x 11 3/4"

Page Count

40

Accelerated Reader

Level 4.8; Points: 0.5;

Scholastic Reading Counts

Level 0; Points: 0;

Lexile

Level AD920L

Format

Print Book

Edition

Library edition with trade jacket added

Publisher

Knopf

Potentially Sensitive Areas

None

Topics

Junius G, Groves (1859–1925), Biography, African American farmers, Potato growers, US slaves, Edwardsville, Kansas, Exoduster Movement, Sharecropping, Community development, Perseverance, Financial success,

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Cover Art

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