by David Small
School Library Journal Gr 4-8-Curious tidbits of personal information and national history combine with humorously drawn caricatures to give this tongue-in-cheek picture book a quirky appeal. "There are good things about being President and there are bad things about being President." So begins a walk through a brief history of facts, successes, oddities, and mishaps. For example, most readers won't know that William Howard Taft weighed over 300 pounds and ordered a specially made bathtub. Small's drawing of a naked Taft being lowered into a water-filled tub by means of a crane should help them remember. Another spread depicts a men's shop where Andrew Johnson (a tailor) fits Ronald Reagan (an actor) for a suit while Harry Truman (a haberdasher) stands behind the counter. While the text exposes the human side of the individuals, the office of the presidency is ultimately treated with respect and dignity. A list of presidents with terms of office, birthplace, date of birth and death, and a one-sentence summary of their accomplishments is provided. This title will add spark to any study of this popular subject.-Alicia Eames, New York City Public Schools (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly HThis lighthearted, often humorous roundup of anecdotes and trivia is cast as a handbook of helpful hints to aspiring presidential candidates. St. George (Sacagawea; Crazy Horse) points out that it might boost your odds of being elected if your name is James (the moniker of six former presidents) or if your place of birth was a humble dwelling ("You probably weren't born in a log cabin. That's too bad. People are crazy about log-cabin Presidents. They elected eight"). She serves up diverse, occasionally tongue-in-cheek tidbits and spices the narrative with colorful quotes from her subjects. For instance, she notes that "Warren Harding was a handsome man, but he was one of our worst Presidents" due to his corrupt administration, and backs it up with one of his own quotes, "I am not fit for this office and never should have been here." Meanwhile, Small (The Gardener) shows Harding crowned king of a "Presidential Beauty Contest"; all the other presidents applaud him (except for a grimacing Nixon). The comical, caricatured artwork emphasizes some of the presidents' best known qualities and amplifies the playful tone of the text. For an illustration of family histories, Small depicts eight diminutive siblings crawling over a patient young George Washington; for another featuring pre-presidential occupations, Harry Truman stands at the cash register of his men's shop while Andrew Johnson (a former tailor) makes alterations on movie star Ronald Reagan's suit. The many clever, quirky asides may well send readers off on a presidential fact-finding missionDand spark many a discussion of additional anecdotes. A clever and engrossing approach to the men who have led America. Ages 7-up. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Book list Gr. 3^-5, younger for reading aloud. Portraits of the presidents can be generally described as staid, stodgy, and dull. Throw these adjectives out the window when describing this book's group portrayal of American presidents. St. George leads her audience, ostensibly young presidential hopefuls, through the good points of the presidency (big house with its own bowling alley and movie theater) and bad points (lots of homework). Then she offers a spiffy presidential history with comparisions and contrasts: most popular names, log cabin origins, ages, looks, backgrounds, pets, musical abilities, favorite sports, and personalities ("William McKinley was so nice that he tried to stop a mob from attacking the man who had just shot him"). The book holds out the possibility that someday a woman, a person of color, or a person who is neither Protestant nor Roman Catholic might be elected president. The discussion ends with the oath of office and the thought that most presidents have tried to do their best to fulfill it. David Small's delightful illustrations, usually droll and sometimes hilarious, will draw children to the book and entertain them from page to page. Memorable images include the comical sight of the obese President Taft being lowered into a bathtub by a crane and a powerful scene showing two figures, Nixon (looking disgruntled) and Clinton (looking dejected), descending the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, under the shadow of impeachment. Thoughtful composition and layout both contribute to the lively visual presentation of this most original look at the presidency. The light tone of the book makes it possible for readers to absorb a great deal of information, some of it silly, but underlying the treatment is a sense of the significance and dignity of the office and the faith that children still aspire to be president. --Carolyn Phelan
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.