Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out
Lands Starred Review from School Library Journal!
NATIONAL CHILDREN’S BOOK AND LITERACY ALLIANCE. Our White House: Looking in, Looking Out. illus. by authors. 256p. Candlewick. Sept. 2008. RTE $35. ISBN 978-0-7636-2067-7. LC number unavailable.
Gr 3-8–More than 100 authors and illustrators contributed to this wide-ranging collection of short pieces about the First Family residence. Most participants are creators of books for youth, along with a sprinkling of other figures, such as historian David McCullough, and actual White House occupants. Arranged in general chronological order, the chapters are delightfully varied in form, tone, and subject matter. They include straightforward history, brief essays, personal narratives, and even fantasy, as in Meg Cabot’s lighthearted time-travel story. The handsome layout and excellent-quality illustrations provide strong appeal. The pairing of words and art is often inspired, as in Maybelle Mayer’s paper doll cutouts from 1938 that accompany Nancy Willard’s poem about White House dresses. There are powerful visual moments as well, such as the dazzling series of spreads featuring visual interpretations of Roosevelt’s "Four Freedoms," each by a different artist. Many segments convey personal details that humanize the presidential families, such as Virginia Euwer Wolff’s introduction to the musical sophistication of the Tafts and Anita Silvey’s look at Jackie Kennedy’s literary career. Humor plays a role too, as in Steven Kellogg’s artistic rendering of an imagined "Best in Show" contest among White House pets. Some readers will progress straight through from Jane Yolen’s imagined conversation between John and Abigail Adams to the first National Book Festival in 2001, while others may browse and jump about; either way, this entertaining introduction to the White House is full of fascinating information, challenging ideas, and appealing artwork.