PreS-Gr 2–The initials that make up the title of this admiring picture-book biography send a message to its readers: the smiling man on the cover was so important that even today, people recognize those three letters. The narrative begins with the author's personal connection to President John F. Kennedy, a glimpse of him in a parade in Dallas, Texas, on the day of the assassination. Winter was only a year old, but, he says, he's heard the story often. After these opening scenes, he provides a chronological summary of Kennedy's life, from sickly childhood in the shadow of a “perfect” older brother through a successful, if short, adult life of public service. Two accomplishments highlighted are writing Profiles in Courage and averting nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Like this team's Barack (HarperCollins, 2008), this title verges on homage. Several spreads show Kennedy in front of admiring crowds, including a green mall packed with spectators at his inauguration (the scene shows no trace of the eight inches of snow that fell the night before). Rockwell-like vignettes show the young Joe, Jr. playing football and the young Jack reading about Camelot; gold-framed portraits show the two as war heroes. In keeping with Kennedy's own carefully crafted image, the sun always shines on his family. For the youngest historians, however, this is an appealing introduction to the Kennedy legend.–Kathleen Isaacs, Children's Literature Specialist, Pasadena, MDα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
The full-face cover portrait, its subject sporting a toothy grin, leads young readers into this biography of John F. Kennedy. Winter makes the story personal by explaining that JFK was president when he was born in 1962. Then, dramatically, he tells how, as a one-year-old, he was taken to see President Kennedy and Jackie riding in a Dallas motorcade. Hours later, JFK was dead. The book then moves back in time, introducing Jack as a sickly daydreamer, often in competition with his older brother, Joe. Kennedy’s career is highlighted with emphasis on the inauguration, and the major moments of his presidency, with a bit about family life. The text does a good job of introducing children to Kennedy, but it is overpowered in places by the acrylic paintings that take up most of the spreads. Sometimes the dramatic art really catches Kennedy, but often there is a stiffness or unintentional comic quality to the faces; the picture of the 1960 debates makes it seem as if Kennedy is laughing at Nixon. Still, there’s little for the age group, and this appealing title fills a need. Grades K-3. --Ilene CooperSee all Editorial Reviews