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A Big Cheese for the White House: The True Tale of a Tremendous Cheddar Paperback – March 1, 2004

5.0 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As she did in The Hatmaker's Sign, Fleming once again parlays a little-known historical nugget into a diverting picture book. In the late 19th century, the folks of Cheshire, Mass., a locale known for its delectable cheddar, grow mighty disgruntled when they learn that President Thomas Jefferson is offering cheese from a Connecticut town to his White House visitors. The Cheshire residents band together to produce a gigantic wheel of cheese that will catch the Chief's eye and please his palate for years. They gather produce from every milk-yielding bovine in nearby pastures into a "cow-created river," a large apple press squeezes whey from the curds and the village blacksmith pounds out an enormous hoop to hold the 1235-pound, four-foot-high cheese. A town elder, accompanied by the cranky local naysayer transports the formidable fromage by sleigh and ship to the White House, where Jefferson "cut into the cheddar's golden glory." With his finely detailed, droll pen and watercolor pictures, Schindler, who collaborated with Fleming on Madame LaGrande and Her So High, to the Sky, Uproarious Pompadour, wryly captures both the period flavor and tall-tale tone of the story. A satisfying, well-aged slice of American lore. Ages 6-10. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 4-A little-known piece of American history is at the center of this humorous story. When the people of Cheshire, MA, hear that President Jefferson is eating cheddar made in Norton, CT, instead of their own, they decide to do something about it. Against all odds, they make a 1235-pound wheel of cheese and ship it to the president, who declares it the best that he has ever tasted, puts it in the record books, and serves it until it finally goes bad. Using a cast of amusing characters that include little Humphrey Crock, who is good at arithmetic; Elder John, the real-life mastermind of the scheme; and the doubting Phineas Dobbs, who scoffs every step of the way, Fleming makes this strange bit of history interesting and funny. Each of the characters has a distinct personality, and the watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations bring all of them to life. Schindler's detailed, cartoonlike artwork integrates well with the witty text. An author's note separates fact from fiction and explains what happened next. This book would be a great choice for classroom units on history, world records, cheese making, or even on succeeding at something that seems impossible. It's also a good bet for anyone looking to liven up historical fiction collections for the younger set.
Amy Lilien-Harper, Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 450 (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Square Fish (March 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374406278
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374406271
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 0.1 x 5.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #929,854 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read this book to my two grandsons (Brooks nearly 4 and Pierce nearly 3 yrs old) and their interest and response to this book has been fun and surprising. The story interests them and the art illustrates the story very well. They enjoy finding the characters from the story in the associated pictures. Phineas Dobbs' grumbling has become an inside family joke. The boys go around the house often repeating his comment, "I told you, it can't be done!" while placing their arms across their chest.
The book has provoked them to ask many questions which has proved to be a good teaching opportunity as well.
They read everytime before naptime and bedtime and they have insisted that this book be included each time for about three weeks now. I highly recommend this book for reading to children 3 years old and up.
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Format: Paperback
Historical fact: On January 1, 1801, Elder John Leland, a Baptist minister, delivered a 1,235-pound wheel of Cheshire cheese to Thomas Jefferson as a gift of gratitude for Jefferson 's support of religious freedom.
Candace Fleming has taken this little-known detail and turned it into a deliciously delightful little "Tale of a Tremendous Cheddar."
In Fleming's story the villagers of Cheshire (makers of mouthwatering cheese) heard news "that threatened to sour their curds forever." President Thomas Jefferson was serving cheese made in Norton, Connecticut ! Not to be outdone, Elder John Leland convinced the residents of Cheshire to put their curds together, along with one day's milking from each of their cows and create a "whopping big cheddar."
Easier said than done the villagers soon realized. They had to resort of using a huge apple press to squeeze the whey from the curds. Then, the local blacksmith had to make a huge, custom-forged hoop to hold the cheese. Their efforts paid off however. Once finished, they had on their hands a 1,235 pound, four-foot tall round of cheddar.
After letting the cheese ripen, Elder John and the ever-doubting Phineas Dobbs set off to deliver the mammoth cheese to Jefferson. Sledding and sailing their way to Washington, the duo finally arrive at the nation's capital amid trumpets, banners, and gaggles of gawkers.
Jefferson, after cutting into cheddar and tasting it, declared it to be "The best you can serve at your table."
Fleming serves up a terrific treat. The tale is charmingly told and fun to read. Schindler's pen-and-ink and watercolor drawings are filled with period details and humorous touches.
Reviewed by the Education Oasis Staff
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Format: Hardcover
After reading this book aloud to my second grade class, I served up different kinds of cheese! The kids loved it (since their mouths were watering for cheese after listening and seeing Schindler's tasty looking illustrations!).An outstanding slice of obscure history! Editor Melanie Kroupa is an expert at delivering great, obscure stories from history (see STEAMBOAT by Judith Heide Gilliland).Outstanding storytelling!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I live in Cheshire Ma and because we know the history of it. I found the book delightful and so did our grandson. A must read for all children to learn something about history and a whole town coming together to present our Cheese to the President. Really a delight to read.....
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A great story to give children a look into a bit of history about Thomas Jefferson. I used the book with first graders to celebrate Jefferson"s birthday. I look for was to celebrate the presidents that first graders will enjoy. This is a great facial story.
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By A Customer on February 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
What makes this book so terrific for me is that I live in thetown adjacent to Cheshire, MA, and I have family that live inCheshire. We've always seen the cheese press in the center of town, but were only vaguely familiar with its history. Now, with this beautiful picture book, I can share the story with the children in my life. I wonder how Ms. Fleming, who lives in Chicago, happened upon this story?
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