Starred Review. Grade 2-5–Complemented by witty cartoon drawings, a lively text explains why Americans wanted George Washington to be their first president and how reluctant the successful general felt about accepting the position. While the man is portrayed in a positive historical light, the book also shows his human side and his nervous, embarrassed, and anxious feelings. Surrounded by humorous caricatures of other founding fathers, Washington relates his reactions to the whirlwind activities of the eight days leading to his inauguration depicted through facial expressions and emotional actions. Color conveys a sense of patriotism and excitement for the new nation. Several pictures include a cleverly placed red fox that mimics the actions and responds to the events of the patriot's life. Although many books on Washington are available for this audience, few focus on a particular segment of his life while also providing bibliographical information. Based in part on recollections by George Washington Parke Custis, Washington's adopted son, this is a factual, focused, and entertaining account of the making of the nation's first president.–Julie R. Ranelli, Episcopal Center for Children, Washington, DC
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*Starred Review* Gr. 2-4. Putting a human face on one of the most famously wooden figures in American history, this picture book focuses on George Washington as a reluctant first president. Though other books note that Washington was disinclined to leave the relative peace of Mount Vernon for the presidency, Jurmain adds that he felt too tired and too old at 57, that he did not want to live in New York, and that he was nervous about taking on the job. The lively text follows Washington as friends such as Jefferson convince him to accept the challenge, as the election is carried out (he was the only candidate), and as he travels to the inauguration with multiple parties along the way. The text is studded with short quotes and memorable details, such as cash-poor Washington borrowing 100 pounds to pay for his journey and the presence of two orangutans on one of the boats celebrating his arrival in New York Harbor. Brightened with watercolor washes, Day's strong drawings illustrate the story with wit and finesse. Though the presence of a fox in many of the scenes (stowing away atop the coach, sleeping in Washington's bedchamber, carrying a flag while riding on his horse) may lead some to wonder whether other elements are factual, this thoroughly engaging book has a great deal to offer young students of American history. A selected bibliography is included. Pair this with Madeleine Comora and Deborah Chandra's George Washington's Teeth (2002), another glimpse at the man behind the myth. Carolyn Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.