Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Eyewitness: Presidents

Eyewitness: Presidents

James Barber
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 10 and up
Dorling Kindersley, 2008   ISBN: 978-0756649449

   There is no doubt that a list of names and dates can be both dull and confusing. In this highly accessible Eyewitness book the author introduces us to the lives of the presidents of theUnited Statesfrom George Washington to the current president. The reader is able to see these men not simply as names in a history book but as faces, men with personalities, and also men who influenced their times in all manner of ways.

   For each president we are given a brief bio of their life in a side bar and then the author tells us a little about them, often finding lesser known details about the men that are interesting and intriguing.  For example, Ulysses S. Grant was happy to leave the White House saying that the felt “like a boy let out of school.” Theodore Roosevelt believed in racial equality so strongly that he was the first president to invite an African-American to dinner at the White House.

      Packed with fully annotated colour photographs of objects from the lives and times of the presidents, this is a wonderful tool to help a child understand what the American presidency over the years has been like. There is something very powerful about being able to see a picture of the original Declaration of Independence, of a microscope that belonged to John Quincy Adams, and of various campaign memorabilia that were produced to help in the presidential campaigns. It is in fact rather like going to a museum where one can almost touch the items that were used by these men. These pictures alone do a great deal to bring the American presidency and the presidents themselves to life.