"There are good things about being president and there are bad things about being president." Thus starts the 2001 Caldecott Medal winner, a riotously funny, trivia and anecdote-loaded picture book tribute to the number one job in the U.S., illustrated with grandly humorous but affectionate watercolor caricatures of our presidents in action. There's Nixon bowling, Taft bathing, and Andrew Jackson brawling. Throughout, we learn about what made the presidents tick, their sizes, ages, personalities, quirks, talents, interests, looks, and political achievements.
Can you name the tallest, the shortest, the fattest, the oldest; and the youngest? (Answers: Abe Lincoln, at 6'4"; James Madison at 5'4"; William Howard Taft at 300+ pounds; Ronald Reagan at 69 years; and Teddy Roosevelt at 42 years)
Certainly, readers will be fired up to read biographies about the presidents who fascinate them, and, in election years, to take a more discerning look at all the candidates, comparing their foibles and fancies. In school, students can create a Presidents Gallery: a bulletin board or wall dedicated to portraits and biographical sketches of each president, listing such facts as birth and death dates, home town, education, marriages, children, interests and talents, and, of course, political accomplishments.
In response to these books, Lisa Romeo's second grade students at James Monroe School in Edison, New Jersey, wrote and illustrated an insightful Top Ten list of advice for our new president, Barack Obama. Their list includes, Letterman style:
10. Make the world a better place because he could give cash to schools.
9. Treat other people the way you want to be treated.
8. Be patriotic.
7. Don't give up. Persevere.
6. Stop the war! And be nice to each other!
5. Make friends.
4. Keep your room clean.
2. Be fair. Be helpful.
And their number 1 tip for our new president?
1. Take your vitamins.
Reviewed by JF.
THEMES: BIOGRAPHY. PRESIDENTS. U.S. HISTORY.
Suggested Ages: 8-12