The House That George Built

The House That George Built, written by Suzanne Slade and illustrated by Rebecca Bond, is a nominee for the 14-15 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

If you take the familiar story of “The House That Jack Built” and combine it with the history of America’s most famous home, you’ve got The House That George Built. This book tells readers about the building of the White House, and how George Washington, the only president who never actually lived in the house, oversaw its construction.

The House That George Built takes us through the early days of our nation, the selection of site for the president’s home, choosing a design, and into the actual building of what would become the White House. The explanations of those events are coupled with charming rhymes reminiscent of the familiar poem mentioned above.

Readers see that, even though he held the highest office in the country, George Washington didn’t hesitate to lend a hand wherever it was needed. He assisted with the actual design, he pounded in stakes, and he made important decisions so that the house would be finished on time and budget.

An afterword and author’s note provide more information about the building of the White House, including some of the changes that have been made over the years.

This book is an ideal fit for studies of Washington, DC, George Washington, or even architecture. It could also be used as a read-aloud for Presidents’ Day. In any event, The House That George Built is a welcome addition to any library collection, and I think both students and teachers who read this book will have a new appreciation for the White House and the man ultimately responsible for building it.

The President’s Stuck in the Bathtub

The President’s Stuck in the Bathtub: Poems About the Presidents, written by Susan Katz and illustrated by Robert Neubecker, is nominated for the 2013-14 South Carolina Children’s Book Award.

I found the poems about each president in this book to be very informative and, in several cases, funny. The notes explaining each poem’s content were also extremely helpful.

The cartoon-like illustrations were often humorous and depicted each U.S. President in a less-than-serious light. Most people view these leaders as super-serious, straight-laced politicians, but we often forget that presidents are also people. The poems in this book kind of highlight that and may even give students something to relate or even aspire to.

I will say that I was a bit disappointed with the poem for my favorite president, Theodore Roosevelt. It was all about one of his sons and didn’t even begin to touch on how awesome TR really was.

The notes on each president at the back of the book also provide readers with information. Each president is listed in order with his full name, birth and death (where applicable) dates, terms of office, nicknames, most notable quote, and a first for each man. Teddy Roosevelt, for example, was the first president to ride in an automobile, submerge in a submarine, and fly in an airplane. These little tidbits are kind of cool and could prove very useful in trivia contests!

This book of poems is a welcome addition to my library, and I foresee it becoming an integral part of Presidents’ Day celebrations.