From Publishers Weekly
Garland's (Mystery Mansion) brightly stylized computer artwork makes fitting accompaniment to this campy but agreeable yarn about President William Howard Taft. Made up out of whole cloth (but inspired by the leader's penchant for getting out and about the country), the story imagines him pausing on a 1909 whistle-stop tour to dedicate a small town's flagpole. But the portly president gets sidetracked. "What is that wonderful aroma?" he asks, and the obliging lad of a narrator whisks him off on a culinary (and somewhat modern multi-ethnic) tour of the town, first to Tony's Italian Villa for spaghetti, then Big Ed's Barbecue for ribs, on to Mrs. Wong's Hunan Palace and, finally, to his own back yard, where the "wonderful aroma," it turns out, emanates from the narrator's mother's apple pie, cooling on the windowsill. Garland pictures the 300-plus-pound Taft as a beach ball of a fellow with tiny limbs and an appetite of truly presidential proportions. One particularly humorous spread shows the rotund but nimble "Big Bill" racing down a residential street in pursuit of the aromatic treat, well ahead of a pack of townsfolk. The clean lines, slightly flattened perspectives and uniform features produced by the computer graphics accentuate the comic absurdity of the material, while the setting, wreathed in such classic Americana as flags, a brass band and straw boaters, radiates nostalgia. Ages 3-8.
From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3-As the 27th president of the United States, William Howard Taft weighed more than 300 pounds and is sometimes remembered more for the size of his appetite than for his political ambitions. Told by a young boy, this good-natured spoof relates the events of a visit by Taft to small-town America at the turn of the century. The president is barely off the train before a delicious aroma propels him down Main Street in search of its source. Of course, the whole town, including the mayor and marching band, follows along in hot pursuit. In a tribute to cultural diversity, Taft stops at the town's local restaurants sampling culinary delights at "Tony's Italian Villa," "Big Ed's Barbecue," and "Mrs. Wong's Hunan Palace" but no meal satisfies him completely. Finally, Taft follows his nose to the child's house where mom's apple pie is cooling on the kitchen windowsill. After a hysterical encounter with the mother, her clothesline, and a rescued pie, Taft sits down to tea. Full-color comical illustrations capture the intended silliness with ease, and Garland's very round Taft practically rolls down the street with glee. Younger readers will simply enjoy the chase, but an older audience might be prompted to investigate the authenticity of early 20th-century, small-town diversity and Taft's presidential accomplishments.Alicia Eames, New York City Public Schools
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