PRESIDENT TAFT IS STUCK IN THE BATH

Barnett spins a probably apocryphal but nonetheless hilarious incident into a Cabinet-level crisis.

In a natural extension of his rotund cameo in Judith St. George and David Small’s So You Want To Be President! (2000), the heaviest commander in chief finds himself immovably stuck in his (standard-sized) tub one morning. “Blast!” he fumes. “This could be bad.” Forced to seek help, he calls on his vice president and the secretaries of state, agriculture, war and the rest—but their advice (“Dynamite!” “A huge vat of butter”) have obvious flaws. Will he be forced to resign? Like Small in the aforementioned Caldecott winner, Van Dusen goes for a humorous, rather than mean, caricature. He depicts the porky president as a corpulent, bare figure sporting artfully placed suds, plus a fierce glower and a bristling handlebar mustache over multiple chins. Eventually, the luxuriously appointed White House bathroom fills up with likewise caricatured officials. At the suggestion of the (petite) first lady, they pull together so effectively that they send their lardy leader rocketing out the window. Noting that when Taft denied having a bathtub custom made “[h]e was lying,” Barnett closes with a summary of his own research topped by an actual photograph of the oversized tub with several men posing inside. The soapiest, splashiest frolic featuring a head of state since Audrey and Don Wood’s King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub (1985). (Picture book. 6-9)

 

Pub Date: March 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6317-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

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Rappaport makes this long struggle palpable and relevant, while Faulkner adds a winning mix of gravitas and high spirits.

ELIZABETH STARTED ALL THE TROUBLE

Rappaport examines the salient successes and raw setbacks along the 144-year-long road between the nation’s birth and women’s suffrage.

This lively yet forthright narrative pivots on a reality that should startle modern kids: women’s right to vote was only achieved in 1920, 72 years after Elizabeth Cady Stanton organized the first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York. Indeed, time’s passage figures as a textual motif, connecting across decades such determined women as Stanton, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, and Lucy Stone. They spoke tirelessly, marched, organized, and got arrested. Rappaport includes events such as 1913’s Women’s Suffrage Parade in Washington, D.C., but doesn’t shy from divisive periods like the Civil War. Faulkner’s meticulously researched gouache-and-ink illustrations often infuse scenes with humor by playing with size and perspective. As Stanton and Lucretia Mott sail into London in 1840 for the World Anti-Slavery Conference, Faulkner depicts the two women as giants on the ship’s upper deck. On the opposite page, as they learn they’ll be barred as delegates, they’re painted in miniature, dwarfed yet unflappable beneath a gallery full of disapproving men. A final double-page spread mingles such modern stars as Shirley Chisholm and Sonia Sotomayor amid the historical leaders.

Rappaport makes this long struggle palpable and relevant, while Faulkner adds a winning mix of gravitas and high spirits. (biographical thumbnails, chronology, sources, websites, further reading, author’s note) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7868-5142-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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The runt of the litter of print titles and websites covering the topic.

PRESIDENT ADAMS' ALLIGATOR

This tally of presidential pets reads like a school report (for all that the author is a journalist for Fox Business Network) and isn’t helped by its suite of amateurish illustrations.

Barnes frames the story with a teacher talking to her class and closes it with quizzes and a write-on “ballot.” Presidents from Washington to Obama—each paired to mentions of birds, dogs, livestock, wild animals and other White House co-residents—parade past in a rough, usually undated mix of chronological order and topical groupings. The text is laid out in monotonous blocks over thinly colored scenes that pose awkwardly rendered figures against White House floors or green lawns. In evident recognition that the presidents might be hard to tell apart, on some (but not enough) pages they carry identifying banners. The animals aren’t so differentiated; an unnamed goat that William Henry Harrison is pulling along with his cow Sukey in one picture looks a lot like one that belonged to Benjamin Harrison, and in some collective views, it’s hard to tell which animals go with which first family.

The runt of the litter of print titles and websites covering the topic. (bibliography, notes for adult readers) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-62157-035-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Patriot Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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