From School Library Journal
Grade 2-4–Davis has chosen 15 presidents, briefly summarizing their terms of office and highlighting the unusual animals they kept, as well as the quirky behavior of both the creatures and their owners. While some of the pet facts are mildly entertaining, the book is replete with sweeping generalizations that are often unfounded or misleading. For example: "Jefferson was a true democrat.… [he] not only believed in equal rights for people, he believed in equal rights for animals, too." Jefferson as a slaveholder is ignored. President Buchanan "was too old and cautious to make hard decisions." The relationship drawn between age and decision- making is ridiculous. "World War I was a time of plots and spies under every bed." Will the intended audience recognize the hyperbole here or take it literally? A section presenting some information about the other presidents is included, but with the same difficulties in terms of generalizations. Johnson's watercolor illustrations are amusing, but cannot compensate for the problems with the text. For a humorous, eclectic, but more accurate peek at the presidency, stay with Judith St. George's So You Want to Be President?
(Philomel, 2000).–Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Gr. 2-4, younger for reading aloud. John Quincy Adams briefly kept an alligator in the East Room during his presidency. Ronald Reagan had a First Fish, sent to him in the mail by a 10-year-old boy. Sixteen hundred Pennsylvania Avenue has witnessed 400 different pets, from Lincoln's goats to Coolidge's raccoon. This whimsical topic will appeal to young history buffs and provide entertaining insights into the family life of presidents. The art, rightly, goes for the humor, but neither the delicate, muted colors used, nor the stiff design, are especially engaging. Still, breezy, exclamation point-ridden, corny joke-filled tales about the likes of Dolley Madison's pet parrot, rescued when British troops set fire to the White House during the War of 1812, and Woodrow Wilson's tobacco-chewing ram can't help but amuse. The 43 presidents are listed in chronological order in the back, with nicknames, brief historical notations about term highlights, and lists of pets--most of which are dogs. A bibliography is appended. Karin SnelsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved