Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

What Presidents Are Made Of

What Presidents Are Made Of

Hancock Piven
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 7 to 9
Simon and Schuster, 2012   ISBN: 978-1442444331

Technically speaking, presidents are made of hair, skin, flesh, and blood just like the rest of us. They are also made of dreams and ambition, hopes and fears. Just like the rest of us. And, just like the rest of us, they have quirks that are uniquely theirs.

This book looks at these quirks, it tells us about some of the strange things America’s presidents did and thought, For example in the first entry in the book we find out that George Washington, the first president of the United States, was not only brave on the battle field and in the presidential office. He was also brave in his private life. Back in those days there was no fire department, and if a fire broke out, homeowners and their neighbors were supposed to take care of the fire themselves. One day, George Washington was out riding when he saw that a home was on fire. Without delay he behaved like a good neighbor, helping to put out a fire because the job needed to be done.

Later in the book we read that President Ulysses S. Grant was fond of riding his one-horse carriage very fast. He was, in short, one of those people who loves speed. One day, he was racing through the streets when he was pulled over by a police officer who did not recognize him. Grant was given a ticket, which he paid without a fuss. In fact he commended the police officer for doing a good job.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt has a personality trait that many people would be able to identify with; he did not like to eat boring food. Unfortunately, the cook in the White House was not very skilled, and the meals she made were singularly uninspiring. So much so in fact that President Roosevelt often went hungry after a meal at the White House dining table. Thankfully, the president was quite happy to make himself a sandwich when he felt peckish.

We often imagine that our presidents are not like ordinary people, that they are above being silly, funny, or clumsy, but they are not. They have strengths and weaknesses, foibles and odd habits. In this book, young readers will enjoy reading about some of the habits of forty-four of America’s presidents, and they will also like looking at the clever collage illustrations that accompany the text.