Peter W. Barnes, Author
Cheryl Shaw Barnes, Illustrator
Little Patriot Press, Historical Fiction, Feb. 4, 2013
Suitable for Ages: 6 and Up
Themes: Animals, Pets, Presidents, White House
Opening: “What is your favorite pet?” Mrs. Tucker asked her class. All the children answered at once: ‘My mouse…kitty…big snake…guinea pig…pony…dog’.” Billy drew a picture of his favorite pet, an alligator, and the class laughed. Mrs. Tucker explained to the class that our presidents had some very unusual pets, even an alligator.
Synopsis: Today is President’s Day, so I thought I would share a new book about the menagerie of pets owned by past and current presidents and their families. Until the 20th century, all the presidents had stables with horses and ponies. George Washington had hunting dogs and horses. He wanted to make sure they had strong teeth, so he had their teeth brushed regularly. Thomas Jefferson had two grizzly bears and a mockingbird, who loved to sit on his shoulder and sing along while the president played the violin. William Henry Harrison had his cow, Sukey, with him. And, John Quincy Adams was given an alligator. President Adams didn’t know what to do with the alligator, so he put him in a bathtub in the East Room. Many of the presidents received gifts from kings from other countries. Martin Van Buren received two tiger cubs and James Buchanan was given a whole herd of elephants, which went to a zoo. President Lincoln had ponies, rabbits, goats and a turkey named Jack. Jack was supposed to be Christmas dinner, but his son Tad begged his Dad to let him live. Woodrow Wilson had sheep. But dogs have always been popular pets with presidential families, including the Bush family’s Springer spaniels, and the Obama’s famous Portuguese Water Dog, Bo.
Why I like this book: Kids love animals and will delight in learning about all the funny stories about White House pets. Peter W. Barnes and Cheryl Shaw Barnes, teamed up to write this historical and entertaining book for children. In February 2002, Cheryl Barnes received a phone call from First Lady Laura Bush’s office and was asked to illustrate the 2002 Holiday Program, “All Creatures Great and Small.” She and her husband have now taken all their research and written this delightful book for children. They have written many books featuring animal characters that teach children about history and government, including the House Mouse and Senate Mouse.
Resources: The book includes back pages of activities, resources for parents and teachers, a pet matching game and a Presidential Pets Fact or Fiction page.
This book has been provided to me free of charge by the publisher in exchange for an honest review of the work.