Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Presidential Pets

Presidential Pets

Julia Moberg
Illustrator:  Jeff Albrecht Studios 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 7 to 10
Charlesbridge, 2012   ISBN: 978-1936140794

The men who have managed to become the President of the United States have all had special qualities that have helped them to attain that special office. They have had to be determined, stubborn, hard-working, intelligent, or just plain lucky. Many of them were downright peculiar, which sometimes worked to their advantage. They were all very different, but what many of them had in common was their love of animals.

The very first president, George Washington, had a deep fondness for animals, and when John Quincy Adams (the future sixth president) lost the president’s special French hounds, George Washington wasn’t pleased. Thankfully, the dogs were found and George Washington crossed the French breed with his own hounds to create a new breed: the America foxhound.

Thomas Jefferson was given two grizzly bear cubs, which he took for walks around the grounds of the White House, and John Quincy Adams was given an alligator. Unfortunately for the residents of the White House, people of consequence liked to send the president unusual animals as gifts. There were baby tigers, a raccoon, and the King of Siam even tried to send President Buchanan a pair of elephants.

Other presidents were so fond of animals that they brought unusual animals into the White House when they came to live there. Sometimes, under pressure from their children, they allowed a veritable menagerie to live in the most famous residence in the United States. This certainly was the case when Theodore Roosevelt was president. His children acquired snakes, pigs, a hyena, a lion, a zebra, and a badger, along with the usual assortment of cats and dogs.

In this fact-filled and often very amusing book, readers will get to meet all of America’s presidents. Each president has a double page spread dedicated to him. There is a poem about his pets (or his lack of them), some basic “Presidential Stats,” some more facts about the president and his relationship with animals, and finally a list of his “Accomplishments and Events.” Each spread includes a comical illustration that shows a scene from that president’s life. All in all, this book provides young readers with clever and interesting profiles of America’s presidents.