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Presidents and their families

gherman_first mothersGherman, Beverly First Mothers
Gr. K–3     64 pp.    Clarion

Illustrated by Julie Downing. This book provides a fascinating perspective on U.S. presidents by focusing on the personalities and influences of their mothers. Each mom has her own section, descriptive epithet (e.g., Barbara Pierce Bush, “The Outspoken Mother”), amusing anecdote, and cartoonlike portrait; sidebars in varying formats contain important dates and facts. Gherman’s engaging text offers vivid characterization of these historic women and their powerful sons. Bib.
Subjects: Collective Biographies; Presidents—United States; Women—History; Women—Biographies; Family—Mother and son

gourley_first gardenGourley, Robbin First Garden: The White House Garden and How It Grew
Gr. K–3     48 pp.    Clarion

Gourley’s discussion of Michelle Obama’s creation of a vegetable garden on the White House lawn is framed by a brief history of other gardens at the White House. Loose-handed watercolor illustrations depict a place that’s full of life. A foreword by chef Alice Waters and a series of recipes are included. Reading list, websites.
Subjects: Farm Life, Husbandry, and Gardening; White House; Obama, Michelle; First ladies; Presidents’ spouses; Women—Presidents’ spouses

kimmelman_hot dog eleanor roosevelt throws a picnicKimmelman, Leslie Hot Dog!: Eleanor Roosevelt Throws a Picnic
Gr. K–3
     40 pp.   Sleeping Bear

Illustrated by Victor Juhasz. When the King and Queen of England visit the United States in June 1939, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt decides to introduce them to an American picnic staple: the hot dog. Juhasz’s caricature figures range from giggle-worthy (the Queen eats hers with a fork and knife) to unflattering (poor Eleanor). Kimmelman’s amusing historical story delicately explains the Great Depression and touches on soon-to-follow WWII.
Subjects: North America; Presidents—United States; George VI, King of Great Britain; Picnics; History, Modern—World War II; Depression (Economic); Roosevelt, Franklin D.; Roosevelt, Eleanor; Elizabeth II, Queen of England; Presidents’ spouses; First ladies

meacham_thomas jefferson president and philosopherMeacham, Jon Thomas Jefferson: President & Philosopher
Middle school, high school     322 pp.     Crown

This adaptation of Meacham’s Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power follows Jefferson from privileged youth to presidency, showing how intelligence and curiosity led to his penning of the Declaration of Independence, interest in exploring the American West, and skill in manipulating the political system. Acknowledgment of Jefferson’s less admirable actions modulates the adulatory tone. Handsome and engaging. Reading list, timeline, websites. Bib., ind.
Subjects: Jefferson, Thomas; Presidents—United States

rhatigan_white house kidsRhatigan, Joe White House Kids: The Perks, Pleasures, Problems, and Pratfalls of the Presidents’ Children
Gr. 4–6     96 pp.     Charlesbridge/Imagine

Illustrated by Jay Shin. Primary sources and anecdotal sidebars combine with an engaging text to present a thorough discussion of what it’s like to be a child or teenager living in the White House. The awkward pastel illustrations detract from the presentation, but plentiful photographs augment the scrapbook-like design. This is an inviting, fact-filled look at the pros and cons of being a member of the First Family. Bib., ind.
Subjects: North America; Presidents—United States; White House; Children of Presidents—United States

From the January 2015 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book.

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