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Books for Presidents’ Day

Looking at Lincoln by Maira KalmanKalman, Maira Looking at Lincoln
Gr. K–3   40 pp. Penguin/Paulsen (Penguin Young Readers Group) 2012

A girl passes a Lincoln look-alike and wonders about our sixteenth president. Through a natural structure that follows the narrator’s thought processes, the narrative lists some basic facts; childlike musings, printed in a more casual font, personalize the account. A gloomy funeral scene is depicted in grays and blacks, a sobering note among the profusion of bright, colorful gouache illustrations. Bib.
Subjects: Individual Biographies; Lincoln, Abraham; Presidents—United States

The Many Faces of George Washington by Carla Killouhj McClaffertyMcClafferty, Carla Killough The Many Faces of George Washington: Remaking a Presidential Icon
Gr. 4–6   120 pp. Carolrhoda 2011

When a re-education campaign was launched in 2005 to increase the public’s knowledge of George Washington, scientists, historians, and artists collaborated to provide a more accurate portrayal of the man and his image. This thorough chronology of the project offers an insightful introduction to the “surveyor, general, and president.” Well-captioned photographs enhance the text. Reading list, timeline, websites. Bib., ind.
Subjects: Individual Biographies; Washington, George; Presidents—United States

Kennedy Through the Lens by Martin W. SandlerSandler, Martin W. Kennedy Through the Lens: How Photography and Television Revealed and Shaped an Extraordinary Leader
Gr. 4–6 
  98 pp. Walker 2011

As in his previous Through the Lens books, Sandler attempts to connect history with the photographic record. His hook for the Kennedy years is that JFK, “our most photogenic president,” created myriad personal and political photo-ops. Some biographical information is also inserted, making this photobiography a browser’s dream. Related places to visit are appended. Reading list, websites. Bib., ind.
Subjects: Individual Biographies; Kennedy, John F.; Presidents—United States; Television; Photography

Where Do Presidents Come From? by Michael TownsendTownsend, Michael Where Do Presidents Come From? And Other Presidential Stuff of Super-Great Importance
Gr. 4–6   156 pp. Dial 2012

Through comic book–style panels, this volume uses recurring gags and broad humor to tackle an array of presidential topics, including the Constitution, the Electoral College, and what Presidents “Actually Do.” Historical facts reign, but the hilarious visual interpretations and plenty of silly commentary from a wacky cast of animals (including ninja hamsters) help lighten the lesson. Bib.
Subjects: Presidents—United States; Cartoons and comics; Graphic novels; History, American; White House

Bloody Times by James L. SwansonSwanson, James L. Bloody Times: The Funeral of Abraham Lincoln and the Manhunt for Jefferson Davis
High school   196 pp. HarperCollins/Collins (HarperCollins) 2011

Swanson adapts his adult work Bloody Crimes about Abraham Lincoln’s funeral and the hunt for Jefferson Davis as the Civil War ended. The narrative uses alternating, parallel story lines to highlight events as the nation (mostly northerners) mourned one man and called for the other’s head. Highly informative, with archival photographs and prints enhancing the work. Reading list. Glos.
Subjects: North America; Davis, Jefferson; Lincoln, Abraham; Assassinations; History, American—Civil War; Presidents—United States

From the January 2013 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book.

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