Thursday, December 11, 2008


An anthology created by 108 authors and illustrators 
and the National Children's Book Alliance, 
with an introduction by David McCullough

Imagine a list of some of the premier authors and illustrators from the world of children's literature- people like Eric Carle,Kate DiCamillo, Jean Craighead George, Steven Kellogg,Linda Sue Park,  Katherine Paterson, Jerry Pinkney, Jon Scieszka, David Small, Jerry Spinelli, Sara Stewart, Mark Teague, Jane Yolen, and Ed Young, to mention a few.  Now imagine that all of those people are invited to contribute a piece to an anthology. Then imagine that all of these contributions are centered around a building that has fascinated Americans for a little more than two hundred years. 

That description pretty much sums up OUR WHITE HOUSE: LOOKING IN, LOOKING OUT. It's a collection of short stories, articles, presidential letters and speeches, plays, poems, timelines, illustrations, and just about anything else you can conjure up. There's fact, there's fiction, there's silly, there's serious, there's beautiful art, and bawdy humor. And it's all centered around the White House. 

I especially enjoyed the illustrated timeline by Bob Kolar (do you know what president brought indoor plumbing, or the internet to the White House? Or which one got locked out while walking his dog one evening?) The "Four Freedoms" illustrations by Calef Brown, Peter Sis, Ed Young, and Steven Alcorn are unforgettable (and would make a terrific art project for kids studying American History). I laughed through Polly Horvath's short story, "White House Souvenir" and cried as I read Kate Di Camillo's "In Early April." I thought the mock Secret Service interview was fascinating (why would anyone ever apply for THAT job!?) and I can't wait to try out the readers' theater on suffrage. And I could certainly identify with Dwight D. Eisenhower's "Prayer for Peace."

This book has an interesting website. I'm planning on using the article on the National Christmas Tree next week. 

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