"In 1968, Congress passed the Monday Holidays Act, which moved the official observance of Washington's Birthday from Feb. 22 to the third Monday in February." Some reformers had wanted to change the name of the holiday as well, to Presidents' Day, in honor of both Lincoln and Washington, but that proposal was rejected by Congress, and the holiday remained officially Washington's Birthday.
"But in 1971, when the Act went into effect, President Nixon proclaimed the holiday as Presidents' Day, to commemorate all past presidents, not just Lincoln and Washington. This idea was never intended or authorized by Congress; nevertheless, it gained a strong hold on the public consciousness." noted Ann Marie Imbornoni. For the entire article visit: http://www.factmonster.com/spot/washington1.html
For more information, activities, lesson plans, coloring pages, and articles of interest about President's Day visit:
For a feature about one of the four presidents featured on Mount Rushmore visit our recent compilation of books about Theodore Roosevelt.
Compiled by Sheilah Egan
Abraham Lincoln: Great American President
It goes without saying that the rise of Abraham Lincoln from an impoverished country boy to the White House remains one of the great success stories in American history. What is often overlooked in the classic rags-to-riches tale is the fact that Mr. Lincoln's climb to the presidency was marked by bitter disappointment, tragic personal losses, the supreme stress of civil war, and a finally his tragic death. This story of great highs and lows is capably presented in this chapter in the Compass Point Books "Signature Lives" series. Combining a solid text with well-chosen period illustrations author Haugen offers readers a fine introductory biography of President Lincoln. Many books have been written about Abraham Lincoln and this particular work sheds no new light on this man's life and times; however, it does provide a sound telling of this nearly mythological story. In the end, the author also demonstrates a sound understanding of Mr. Lincoln's strengths as a leader and a human being. In the author's words, "Lincoln possessed the perfect combination of qualities necessary for great leadership: honesty, compassion, courage, and a good sense of right and wrong." In making this assessment Haugen is correct and amplifies her message by recounting Mr. Lincoln's life in a clear and straightforward manner in this book. 2006, Compass Point Books, $30.60. Ages 10 to 14. Reviewer: Greg M. Romaneck (Children's Literature).
Abraham Lincoln the Boy Who Loved Books
Illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
This is the story of how a boy who loved to read changed the world forever. His life in a log cabin included storytelling by his ma and pa and attending school for a period of time. He talked to settlers as the family moved on to different places. His mother's death led to a stepmother who brought books to his home. Abe and the other children were sent back to school. All the while he worked hard and interacted with all kinds of people. At nineteen Abe traveled to Illinois and continued his education until he became a lawyer. He learned the power of words and ran for public office. He used his skills well--from his fascination of writing letters and numbers in the sand and on wood to the highest office in the land. This book in story and pictures is very personable for a child to read and learn. The "Author's Note" in the back is quite informative. 2003, Simon and Schuster, $16.95. Ages 5 to 8. Reviewer: Naomi Butler (Children's Literature).
"In the wilds of Kentucky, 1809/ a boy was born." In simple, poetic language, with a pleasing reliance on rhythm and repetition, Kay Winters relates the story of the young Abe Lincoln's life. His legendary journey from log cabin to the presidency touches on scenes and themes that young readers will relate to--fireside stories and the fearsome sounds of the night outdoors. The text scans easily on the page, and its wordplay makes it satisfying to read out loud. Carpenter's oil-on-canvas illustrations render the sixteenth president with a light and humorous touch, picking up the whimsy in the text. A spread of Lincoln as President shows him absorbed in a book, his own portrait towering above the mantel, and the window behind him casting long shadows over the floor. The image is delightful in its use of color and light, directing the reader's eye to the expression on the face of the still, focused figure. The text reads, "He learned the power of words/ and used them well." At another level this book might strike a chord with any child reader who has ever felt misunderstood or out of place, as did the young Lincoln. An author's note offers historical background in the form of a brief biography. A selected bibliography is also provided, that includes a reference to material from the Indiana Historical Society. 2003, Simon and Schuster, $16.95. Ages 5 to 8. Reviewer: Uma Krishnaswami (Children's Literature).
Best Children's Books of the Year, 2004; Bank Street College of Education; United States
Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, Supplement, 2004; H.W. Wilson
Abe Lincoln Remembers
Pictures by Wendell Minor
A moving text in poetic prose helps the reader to imagine Lincoln's thoughts about that historic evening when he went to Ford's Theater. He reflects on his childhood, his struggles to obtain an education, his political life and his sorrow about the war that has recently ended. This fictional book is well-based in factual information with a historical note in the back. Minor's full- color illustrations are well researched and present an accurate, realistic vision of Lincoln's life and times. This book could be used effectively with all ages in studies of Lincoln, the Civil War or biographies. 2001, HarperCollins, $15.95 and $15.89. Ages 5 up. Reviewer: Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D. (Children's Literature).
Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, Supplement, 2002; H.W. Wilson; United States
Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 2002; National Council for the Social Studies NCSS; United States
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
Virginia State Young Readers' Award, 2003; Nominee; Primary School Level, Grades K-3; Virginia
The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln
April 15, 1865 was the day that President Abraham Lincoln died. Any child can find out that information and has probably learned it in school. This title in the "We the People" series lets children discover how this tragedy came about by detailing the conspiracy behind the assassination. John Wilkes Booth is the name that sticks in the minds of most people when speaking about Lincoln's assassination but the fact is that many people including David Herold, Lewis Powell, John and Mary Surrat and George Atzerodt were involved in different capacities. It is this focus on the conspirators, their roles and their fates that make this book a great resource. Paintings and photographs enrich the text and bring the characters to life. Also included are a timeline, glossary, important people and want-to-know-more lists and "Did You Know?" This is an excellent resource for any classroom study or library. 2005, Compass Point Books, $22.60. Ages 7 to 12. Reviewer: Trina Heidt (Children's Literature).
The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln
Dennis Brindell Fradin
On April 14, 1865, Abraham Lincoln was shot and mortally wounded while attending a play at Ford's Theater in Washington. Lincoln's murderer, John Wilkes Booth, fled from the scene of the crime only to be tracked down and himself mortally wounded by Union cavalrymen twelve days later. The story of Abraham Lincoln's assassination is a well-known tragedy in American history. In addition, the murder of President Lincoln was also a turning point in U.S. history, as it set the stage for an even more embittered post-war climate than might have occurred if Wilkes' plot had been foiled. In The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln, youngsters are provided a thoughtful reconstruction of both the assassination plot and the earlier life of President Lincoln. Throughout the text, period illustrations are included to enlighten readers. Taken as a whole, this elementary level work is one that will go a long way toward explaining one of the great crimes in American history, its aftermath, and implications. 2006, Marshall Cavendish, Ages 10 to 12, $20.95. Reviewer: Greg M. Romaneck
George Did It
Suzanne Tripp Jurmain
Illustrated by Larry Day
"His Exalted High Mightiness, the President of the United States" is what some members of Congress wanted to call the newly elected leader, George Washington. He was relieved when it was decided to address him as "President," since he did not want anyone to thing that he was trying to be a king. George Washington was reluctant to become president after having spent 14 years in the struggle for freedom from the British and helping to write the Constitution after the war. He just wanted to return to Mt. Vernon and work on his home, farm, and enjoy his country life. The author gives us a look at the very real person Washington was, as well as, documenting much of the history surrounding his major contributions to the development of the nation we know today. She recounts how Washington rose to the occasion when asked to lead the American Army in the fight for freedom from Britain: "...George did it." She tells how hard it was to help design a new government to unite the thirteen colonies "...But George did it." However, when the time came to elect a leader for the new nation, George Washington did not want to say "yes" to the people's request to be the first president. Told with humor, Jurmain reveals the trepidation with which GW approached becoming president: he was nervous. The illustrations reflex the text nicely and serve to convey an extra look at the time with authentic clothing, tools, furniture, etc. The pictures also give those who know something about the period or George Washington several opportunities for chuckles-in a scene where the people were pestering him to become president, he is shown leaving a dentist's office with a bandage around his jaw (the sign in the window says "false teeth made here"). The trend toward text dense picture books is well suited for sharing history with young audiences and for making memorable presentations of facts that could be dry...this title will inform AND amuse, as well, as reassure those who do not relish public speaking. Neither did George, but he did it. Bibliography included. 2006, Dutton/Penguin, Ages 6 to 9, $16.99. Reviewer: Sheilah Egan
Chronicling the life of George Washington, author Cheryl Harness probes into the human being behind the historical mask. She does an admirable job constructing history with a sympathetic eye, and her illustrations are wonderful--full of expression and interest. George is shown having doubts about his ability to lead his country, but his bravery and determination win the day. The storyline is nicely presented in different ways, framed, written on parchment, or hung on banners as part of the picture. Good likenesses of important historical figures are represented working out the constitution and creating the government of the United States. There are many maps showing all kinds of information. This would be a fabulous resource book on this period for the early elementary grades. It is the author's fourth presidential biography for National Geographic. 2000, National Geographic Society, $17.95. Ages 5 to 10. Reviewer: Nancy Partridge (Children's Literature).
Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001; H.W. Wilson; United States
George Washington: America's Leader in War and Peace
Author McNeese has written a good, clear biography about George Washington, America's first president. Although many books have been written about the Father of Our Country, McNeese's addition is both an educational and enjoyable reading experience. At the end of each of the nine chapters, there is a short section called "Test Your Knowledge" which lists questions and multiple answer choices. The sidebars are interesting, such as Washington's "Patowmack Canal," "What Were We Like as a Nation in 1790?" and "George Washington's Women." Before Washington became president he was a land surveyor, legislator, and general. His leadership role as commander of the Army during the Revolutionary War paved the way to his election as president. Washington served two terms but at the end of his second term he was tired. Many people wanted him to run for a third term but he decided to retire to Mount Vernon, his Virginia home. His days on the plantation were spent supervising the operation of the large farm, writing letters, reading, spending time with his family, and entertaining guests. In 1799 Washington came down with a bad cold after riding his horse around Mount Vernon on a cold and wet December day. The cold progressed to a sore throat and then laryngitis that caused difficulty in breathing. Within a few days, he was dead. A chronology and time line, chapter notes, bibliography, further reading, and websites are included. Color and black-and-white photographs illustrate the text. 2006, Chelsea House Publishers, $30.00. Ages 10 up. Reviewer: Della A. Yannuzzi (Children's Literature).
George Washington: Frontier Colonel
George Washington's youth through the American Revolution is the focus of this twelve-chapter, 176-page biography. Washington grew up along the Potomac River in Virginia. As a child, Washington did not like school very much, preferring to spend his time outdoors. In 1748, Washington traveled to western Virginia as a surveyor working for the Fairfax family; at the time Washington was sixteen. Three years later, Washington took his only long sea voyage, to Barbados, accompanying his older brother who was dying of tuberculosis. Chapters six and seven cover the troubles brewing between the French and the English and Washington's early experiences working with the Virginia militia. In 1755, Washington volunteered to serve as aide to General Braddock and the British forces as the French and Indian War formally began. Much of the book's content comes from Washington's own journal entries. Beyond Washington's actual experiences, the journal entries give readers information about Washington's personal life, his hopes, and what he saw as his shortcomings. In a classroom, the book would certainly work with curriculum addressing America's early history, and it would also be useful in studies about leadership and goal development. The book is in the "Sterling Point Books" series. 2006, Sterling Publishing Co, $6.95. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Lynn O'Connell (Children's Literature).
George Washington & the Founding of a Nation
Throughout his life, George Washington fought for his beliefs and used his integrity and leadership abilities to make a difference in Colonial America. This engaging biography takes a look at the life and times of America's first president and founding father. Although most of this book focuses on Washington's illustrious military career, the author also presents information about his childhood, his marriage to Martha Custis and his experiences at Mount Vernon. Detailed descriptions give readers an in-depth look at the campaigns and battles fought by Washington and his men during the Revolutionary War. In addition to Washington's military achievements, this well-written book also presents useful background information about the causes and effects of the war, the major players on both sides of the war effort, and the evolution of early American politics and government. The author supplements the text with black-and-white illustrations and portraits, maps, quotations, diary entries, reproductions, endnotes, and a list of books for further reading. Albert Marrin's portrayal of George Washington is well researched and thorough. Young readers will enjoy this highly readable account of one of America's most influential and memorable historical figures. 2001, Dutton Children's Books, $25.00. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Debra Briatico (Children's Literature).
Best Books for Young Adults, 2002; American Library Association-YALSA; United States
Editors' Choice: Books for Youth, 2001; American Library Association-Booklist; United States
School Library Journal Book Review Stars, January 2001; Cahners; United States
School Library Journal: Best Books, 2001; Cahners; United States
Senior High School Library Catalog, Sixteenth Edition, 2002; H.W. Wilson; United States
Senior High School Library Catalog, Supplement to the Fifteenth Edition, 2001; H.W. Wilson; United States
George Washington: Leading a New Nation
Illustrated by Cynthia Martin
The life and accomplishments of George Washington are presented clearly and succinctly in this graphic format biography. Divided into four chapters, it briefly recounts Washington's early years, his career as a surveyor in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, his role in the French and Indian Wars, and his participation in the American Revolution and his presidency. The author quite skillfully recaps the major battles in which Washington led his troops--including his defeat at Brandywine which resulted in the British overtaking Philadelphia--the cruel winter at Valley Forge, and his historic crossing of the Delaware River. The weakest part of the book is the final chapter, which covers Washington as President. Only three pages are devoted to Washington's role as the United States' first elected president, although the author provides a short summary of Washington's accomplishments in office. Supplemental information at the end of the book includes a glossary, a bibliography, and recommended resources. This book is part of Capstone Press's "Graphic Biographies" series in its "Graphic Library" line of nonfiction books in a graphic format, which supplements author-created quotes with quotes from primary source archival material. Recommended as a first introduction to Washington for younger readers. 2005, Capstone Press, $25.26. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Lauri Berkenkamp (Children's Literature).
George Washington: Our First President
Ann Graham Gaines
This entry in the well-written "Our Presidents" series provides an overview of George Washington, his early years in Virginia, his surveyor role, and the beginnings of the Revolution. All illustrations are taken from art and cartoons of the day and photographs. One-page sections feature his first inauguration, Mount Vernon, and slavery in Washington's time. Sidebars add interesting facts and picture captions are informative and lengthy enough to inform casual browsers. Each book in the series ends with a glossary defining highlighted words in the text, a timeline specific to the president's life, a complete table of presidents through George W. Bush with their home states, life spans, presidential spans, political party and the name of their first ladies. Included are a page of "Presidential Facts" and numerous web sites and relevant suggested other resources, as well as an index. All in all, it's a strong, informative, and very readable contribution to the literature about presidents for upper elementary and middle school readers. 2002, The Child's World, $27.07. Ages 10 to 14. Reviewer: Susan Hepler, Ph.D. (Children's Literature).
The Gettysburg Address
In November of 1863, President Abraham Lincoln journeyed to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. There, the previous July, the Union and Confederates armies of the east had waged the most cataclysmic battle of the Civil War. In three days of brutal combat over 52,000 men had been killed, wounded, or captured. Over the ensuing months the bodies of thousands of these fallen soldiers had been reburied in order to return the surrounding countryside as well as the town of Gettysburg to some semblance of normalcy. Funds had been raised to establish a national cemetery at Gettysburg where Union boys were interred by their home states. Hundreds of these tombstone markers bore a one word epitaph for these fallen lads--UNKNOWN. As Mr. Lincoln approached the podium he held in his hand a speech of less than 300 words. Little did he know that this speech, which was to be known as the Gettysburg Address, was to become one of the most revered orations in American history. In this concise illustrated work, author Burgan does an outstanding job of recreating the moment in which Mr. Lincoln expressed the heartfelt feelings of many Americans, then and now, regarding their republic. This is a fine book as it combines a well-developed story with relevant illustrations. Young historians will gain from this work and the way it has been crafted. 2006, Capstone Press, $ 23.93. Ages 8 to 10. Reviewer: Greg M. Romaneck (Children's Literature).
Lee sobre George Washington -- Read about George Washington
As the first President of the United States of America, George Washington holds an important place in history. The reader is taken briefly through Washington's life as he grows up on a farm in Virginia, serves in two wars, and becomes President of a new nation. The book ends by discussing how we remember George Washington now, one way being the Washington Monument. This entire book is bilingual, with English words written on the top of the page and Spanish on the bottom. It is part of the "I Like Biographies! Bilingual!" series. Each page of words is followed by a page with a piece of artwork and a description under it, first in English, then Spanish. Almost all of this artwork comes from the Library of Congress. This book has an obvious connection to history, but would work very well in integrating art to history. The readers are exposed to different works of art, but they are placed in a simple and understandable context for younger students to benefit from. The book was originally written in 2004 in English, but this is the first edition of the bilingual version. 2006, Enslow Publishers Inc, $21.26. Ages 7 to 10. Reviewer: Elizabeth Fresse (Children's Literature).
Let's Celebrate Presidents' Day
Peter Roop and Connie Roop
Illustrated by Gwen Connelly
Jump into this book with the funny riddles printed on both inside covers and facing pages. Once the chuckles are over, the text gets down to presenting facts about President's Day and specific presidents. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln are featured with information about their early backgrounds and their terms of office. Pertinent information about who can be president and presidential powers is also explained in terms youngsters can grasp. The selection of Washington, D.C. as our capital city and the history of the Capitol are discussed, as well as the White House and its history. Presidential wives and children in the White House make up other interesting sections of the text. A section about former presidents and what they have done following office is also included in this book that would be an asset to a social studies unit. A craft activity about making George Washington buttons, complete with a secret code, explains how American patriots passed along secret information during the Revolutionary War. Illustrated stars filled with facts are sprinkled throughout the book. 2001, The Millbrook Press, $21.90. Ages 5 to 8. Reviewer: Nancy Garhan Attebury (Children's Literature).
Lincoln: a Photobiography
Photographs and text trace the life of the Civil War President. Lincoln stood out in a crowd because of his wit, humor and height. The book is richly illustrated with dozens of carefully chosen photographs and prints. It starts with Lincoln's boyhood, moves to his career as a country lawyer, and then his courtship and marriage to Mary Todd. The focus of the book is the Lincoln presidency 1861-65 and a recounting of the complex issues that led a deeply divided nation to Civil War. The story concludes with Lincoln's assassination at Fords Theater on April 14, 1865. 1988 Newbery Medal, 1987 Notable Children's Book. 1989 (orig. 1987), Clarion Books, $17.00 and $7.95. Ages 10 up. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children's Literature).
Best of the Best Revisited (100 Best Books for Teens), 2001; American Library Association-YALSA; United States
Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001; H.W. Wilson; United States
Middle And Junior High School Library Catalog, Eighth Edition, 2000; H.W. Wilson; United States
Not Just for Children Anymore!, 1998; Children's Book Council; United States
Recommended Literature: Kindergarten through Grade Twelve, 2002; California Department of Education; California
Senior High School Library Catalog, Sixteenth Edition, 2002; H.W. Wilson; United States
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
The Golden Kite Award Honor Book 1987 Non-Fiction United States
International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) Honor List Winner 1990 Text International
John Newbery Medal Winner 1988 United States
Jefferson Cup Award Winner 1988 United States
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
Kentucky Bluegrass Award, 1989; Nominee; Kentucky
Prairie Pasque Award, 1990; Nominee; South Dakota
William Allen White Children's Book Award, 1989-1990; Nominee; Kansas
Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohon
Illustrations by David Wenzel
Every week, Bo, Zach, Jacob, and Abigail's teacher asks their class a "What If?" question during History. This week, Mr. Caruthers asks how life would be different if President Lincoln had not issued the Emancipation Proclamation. The four students come back after school to discuss it with their teacher not knowing what Mr. Caruthers has in store for them--a trip back in time to convince President Lincoln to maintain his place in history! The four students, chosen for their curiosity, speed, computer knowledge, and book sense, enter Washington, D.C. on September 22, 1862, the very day the Emancipation Proclamation should be presented. Rather than the strong, humorous, and wise Lincoln who they have studied, the children find a discouraged and worn-out president. The four do their best to convince Lincoln to maintain his belief in freedom, but it is not until the president enters his future (the students' present) that he sees the benefits of his beliefs and re-enters his world ready to deliver the famous proclamation. This historical fiction book will intrigue most young readers about this time period. It is not full of detailed historical teachings--most of its pages are full of suspenseful fictional moments as the children "race the clock." However, generalities about the time period are shown and, therefore, teachers can comfortably use this book as a playful addition to a history lesson. Illustrations accompany every fourth or fifth page. This title is part of the "Blast to the Past" series. 2005, Aladdin Paperbacks, $3.99. Ages 7 to 10. Reviewer: Andrea Sears Andrews (Children's Literature).
Young readers can romp through history, thanks to "Blast to the Past," a new time-travel series by Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohon. Debut titles Lincoln's Legacy and Disney's Dream introduce Abigail, Jacob, Zack and Bo and their mission: to encourage historic figures at their darkest hour. The four are thrust into some fascinating "What if's". What if Lincoln had never freed the slaves? What if Disney, overwhelmed by technical difficulties, had abandoned "Steamboat Willie," the first animated movie with sound? These chapter books blend historic fact with lively fiction, made even more engaging by David Wenzel's occasional black-and-white illustrations. 2005, Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, $3.99. Ages 7 to 10. Reviewer: Mary Quattlebaum (Children's Literature).
As the opening note to parents and teachers states--the "National Holidays" series supports national social studies standards related to understanding events that celebrate the values and principles of American democracy. That said, this book successfully explains why and how we celebrate Presidents' Day. Full-color illustrations depict people visiting monuments dedicated to the presidents or learning and reading about these men who served their country. The concluding pages contain a short glossary, a few books and Internet sites and a word list/index. 2000, Pebble Books/Capstone, $13.25. Ages 4 to 7. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children's Literature).
The origins and customs of Presidents' Day are explained in this book from the "American Holidays" series. The introduction gives a brief explanation of the focus of Presidents ' Day. Descriptions of both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln's lives and contributions as president are included. A "Words of Wisdom" chapter quotes memorable sayings from both presidents. The chapter "Creating the Holiday" describes the memorial ceremonies and holidays held in honor of both presidents until Richard Nixon renamed the holiday "Presidents' Day" in 1968. A map of the United States shows where and how different regions celebrate Presidents' Day. A "Holiday Symbols" chapter describes the significance of Mount Rushmore, U.S. currency, and the White House. A "Crafts and Recipes" section describes different ways to celebrate the holiday with things to make. Other sections include a "Holiday Quiz," "Fascinating Facts," and a glossary. This would be a wonderful book to use in classrooms during Presidents' Day, both for informative and entertainment value. 2004, Weigl, $22.80. Ages 7 to 10. Reviewer: Amie Rose Rotruck (Children's Literature).
David F. Marx
As the Presidents' Day holiday approaches every February and kids are off school for a long weekend, many of them do not understand what this holiday is all about. This book about Abraham Lincoln and George Washington serves as an independent reader or an introductory read-aloud for young kids to learn about two of America's greatest heroes. The text is in a large font size and there are no more than four sentences per page. Wonderful historic artwork depicts the men and their times as they fought to unite our country as a whole. Basic background history on these presidents' bravery, courage and achievements will help kids to begin to appreciate the significance of the holiday. There is a "Words You Know" glossary with illustrations and an index to conclude the holiday book. It is part of the "Rookie Read-About Holidays" series. 2002, Scholastic/Children's Press, $5.95. Ages 4 to 7. Reviewer: Melissa A. Caudill (Children's Literature).
A short history of this federal holiday and how it is celebrated is simply told in large print. The achievements of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Franklin D. Roosevelt are summarized. There is a list of Presidents of the United States. "What is a President's Job?" and "Who Can Be President" are chapter titles that will intrigue children. Black and white pictures of the presidents and colorful, clear photographs of important landmarks, such as Mount Rushmore, the White House, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and Mount Vernon, add interest. A glossary, web site, and index make the information readily available. This is part of the "Buddy Books" series on "Holidays." The book is well-organized, interesting, and informative. It will be a good addition for any library for children. 2005, ABDO Publishing Company, $21.35. Ages 5 to 9. Reviewer: Carlee Hallman (Children's Literature).
Natalie M. Rosinsky
Presidents' Day is a national holiday in the United States, chosen to instill pride in the American people. It celebrates all Presidents, but the date was chosen because of its proximity to the birthdays of two Presidents, Lincoln and Washington. Both presidents were born in the month of February. The birthdays had been celebrated separately. In 1968, Congress passed a law identifying certain national holidays. Presidents' Day was one of those holidays. At the Federal level, the holiday is still called Washington's Birthday because Congress never officially changed the name. This is part of the "Let's See" series, which includes books about holidays, ancient civilizations, communications, economics, farm life and national concerns. The holiday set includes eighteen titles, including this one and titles on Passover, Hanukkah, Juneteenth and Cinco de Mayo. The holiday set is thorough in its coverage, using news photos, artist's renderings, and famous portraits. There is also a glossary, an index and web page references. Words printed in bold throughout the text are included in the glossary. 2005, Compass Point Books, $19.93. Ages 6 to 8. Reviewer: Joyce Rice (Children's Literature).
Take the Lead, George Washington!
Judith St. George
Illustrated by Daniel Powers
This very detailed story of the early life of George Washington is both a visual treat and a thoughtful look at the influences on the boy who would become president. The second in a series of books focused on turning points in the lives of our presidents, this title looks at Washington and the influence of his older brother, Laurence, who inspired young George to become a surveyor. But the rest of Washington's family is not slighted in our understanding of their impact on him as we meet his parents and other siblings. The illustrations in this text add sparkle (for lack of a better word) to the portrayal of the various characters; for example, although the author does not provide any specific adjectives to define Washington's mother, Mary, the illustrations show a woman with a strong personality and a definite view on what she will and will not allow in the life of her son. The double-page illustrations will certainly gain the attention of younger readers and keep them interested, even when the text seems a bit long. Both writer and illustrator have been so thorough in their renderings of Washington's life that older readers could actually use this book as a starting point for research on George Washington. If the rest of the series is as strong as this text, it will be a must have for parents and librarians alike. 2005, Philomel Books/Penguin, $16.99. Ages 7 to 14. Reviewer: Jean Boreen, Ph.D. (Children's Literature).
Watergate: Scandal in the White House
The "Snapshots in History" series aims to acquaint middle readers with some significant historic events of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Its authors face a challenge: how to make the narrative interesting to students who may be lacking the background in history and politics that would help them fill in gaps left by compressing complex stories into eight short chapters. Though aided by photographs, sidebars, and quotations, this volume is a case in point. The coverage of Watergate begins with a dramatic account of the break-in, and then proceeds to review Nixon's career from his election as Representative from California through his two terms as President. Three chapters detail the developing story of the aborted attempt to photograph documents at Democratic headquarters, introducing the many characters involved in the cover-up; fortunately, a chart helps confused readers keep the cast straight. After Nixon's election to a second term, a trial led to a further investigation, examination of Nixon's White House tapes, and the appointment of a special prosecutor. Readers may find this abundance of information more than they really want to know, but if they persist they'll learn about the crimes committed and Nixon's resignation. The author concludes that the scandal caused Americans to distrust their government and weaken the presidency, while a new law about campaign financing led to other abuses, reminding us that Americans "must always be on the lookout for abuses of power, because they are likely to occur again." Included are a timeline, a bibliography, a glossary, and source notes. 2007, Compass Point, Ages 10 to 14, $31.93. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
The White House
Illustrations by Matthew Skeens
Not many children get to live in the White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but all youngsters can learn about this important home of the President of the United States when they pick up this informative book. Short, readable sections impart information that includes how George Washington chose land for the first home of the president, how an Irish designer came up with the best plans for the house, the first family to live there, what happened to the White House during wartime, and more. Simple concise sidebars add extra facts to the text. Basic vocabulary words in the book, such as democracy and leadership, are easy to understand in context. Like the other books in the "American Symbols" series, this one contains free-flowing computerized illustrations that may cause children to take a second and third look to see all they contain. This book offers a simple solution to letting many children "see" inside the White House without actually going there. Use it to enrich history lessons for early grades and students will retain the information when they reach middle grades. 2006, Picture Window Books, Ages 5 to 7, $23.95. Reviewer: Nancy Garhan Attebury
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