Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Ghosts of the White House

Ghosts of the White House

Cheryl Harness
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 7 to 10
Simon and Schuster, 2002   ISBN: 0689848927

Sara and her class are going to visit the White House, and she is very excited to be going to this famous home, to this place where so many American Presidents have worked and lived. As she and her school mates begin the tour, Sara starts to feel a little disappointed because the house feels more like a museum. If only… and then something extraordinary happens. Sara is whisked away from her class and into a painting. The person responsible for this amazing feat is none other than President George Washington himself, or rather the ghost of the President.

This begins an extraordinary visit with the ghosts of the former Presidents. Each one tells Sara what it was like to be in the White House during their presidency, many of them also giving her interesting personal details about their lives. For example John Adams had to wear a cap on his bald head at night because the house was so cold. During President Wilson’s time in the White House, they used to use sheep to mow the lawns. As for President Theodore Roosevelt, he, his wife, and his six children “had some lively times” in the White House during their years in the lovely old house.

With lively illustrations, speech bubbles, and interesting borders, Sara’s visit through the rooms of the White House becomes a wonderful adventure. In addition to describing Sara’s adventure, Cheryl Harness has provided her readers with short but telling biographies of all forty-three of America’s Presidents, and she concludes with a description of the office of the presidency itself. This is accompanied by a wonderful pictorial timeline of all the American Presidents who have served the American people.