Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

George Washington's Birthday: A Mostly True Tale

George Washington's Birthday: A Mostly True Tale

Margaret McNamara
Illustrator:  Barry Blitt 
Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Random House, 2012   ISBN: 978-0375844997

One morning young George Washington woke up and he realized that it was his seventh birthday. Unfortunately, his day began just as so many days did. He ate his porridge and then went to the library to have a lesson with his half brother. Usually George was good at doing arithmetic, but this cold morning he struggled.

   Fed up with numbers, the boy headed outside. He went to see the horses, then needing to do something to warm up, he began to throw stones into the river. A young man came along who jokingly challenged George to throw a stone all the way across the Rappahannock River. To both their surprise, George managed to throw the stone all the way to the other bank.

   After this, George was ready to go inside, but he met his father in the orchard and was given the job of pruning the cherry trees. In a fit of pique because he was having a decidedly crummy birthday, George accidentally cut down one of the trees. When his father saw what George had done to the tree he asked his son who was responsible, and George had to decide if he would tell his father the truth.

   In this clever picture book, the author tells a story that is mostly made up, but at the same time she clarifies which of the many George Washington myths are true and which are just tall tales. We find out that the famous cherry tree tale was made up, but it was told because George Washington was a very truthful person.

   At the back of the book the author provides further information about George Washington. She writes this from George Washington’s point of view, infusing the account with personal details about the first American president, and giving it touches of humor.