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From the Basher History series

Like Hanoch Piven’s What Presidents Are Made Of (2004), more a quick novelty than a reliable source of information or...

Each of the “Oval Office All-Stars” steps up for a brief say in Basher’s newest cartoon gallery—a rare break from his usual STEM topics (Technology: A Byte-Sized World!, 2012, etc.).

Sounding downright cheeky (“I was one wise sucker, I can assure you,” smirks Thomas Jefferson), each president from Washington to Obama delivers a two-paragraph thumbnail summary of his administration’s highlights and, often, lowlights, sandwiched between trios of bulleted “firsts” or trivia. Despite differences in hairstyles, the egg-headed caricatures on each facing page look pretty much alike (Obama excepted), but Basher does add distinguishing dress or other small items, from broken shackles at Lincoln’s feet to Calvin Coolidge’s pet raccoon. A complete set of postage-stamp–sized official portraits brings up the rear. Green is sometimes loose with his facts—the president is not the “head of the federal government,” nor was the system of checks and balances created because presidents “sometimes do stupid things, have crazy ideas, and generally fumble their way through”—and uses an opaque metaphor in characterizing Nixon as “a shifty operator who liked to sail close to the wind” (did he mean “played his cards close to his chest” maybe?). These quibbles aside, the real issue here is that, aside from some of the trivia, all the information is so easily available elsewhere.

Like Hanoch Piven’s What Presidents Are Made Of (2004), more a quick novelty than a reliable source of information or enlightenment. (foldout poster) (Collective biography. 10-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7534-6964-4

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Kingfisher

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2013

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If Freedman wrote the history textbooks, we would have many more historians. Beginning with an engrossing description of the Boston Tea Party in 1773, he brings the reader the lives of the American colonists and the events leading up to the break with England. The narrative approach to history reads like a good story, yet Freedman tucks in the data that give depth to it. The inclusion of all the people who lived during those times and the roles they played, whether small or large are acknowledged with dignity. The story moves backwards from the Boston Tea Party to the beginning of the European settlement of what they called the New World, and then proceeds chronologically to the signing of the Declaration. “Your Rights and Mine” traces the influence of the document from its inception to the present ending with Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. The full text of the Declaration and a reproduction of the original are included. A chronology of events and an index are helpful to the young researcher. Another interesting feature is “Visiting the Declaration of Independence.” It contains a short review of what happened to the document in the years after it was written, a useful Web site, and a description of how it is displayed and protected today at the National Archives building in Washington, D.C. Illustrations from the period add interest and detail. An excellent addition to the American history collection and an engrossing read. (Nonfiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-8234-1448-5

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2000

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Logically pointing out that the American cowboy archetype didn’t spring up from nowhere, Sandler, author of Cowboys (1994) and other volumes in the superficial, if luxuriously illustrated, “Library of Congress Book” series, looks back over 400 years of cattle tending in North America. His coverage ranges from the livestock carried on Columbus’s second voyage to today’s herding-by-helicopter operations. Here, too, the generous array of dramatic early prints, paintings, and photos are more likely to capture readers’ imaginations than the generality-ridden text. But among his vague comments about the characters, values, and culture passed by Mexican vaqueros to later arrivals from the Eastern US, Sadler intersperses nods to the gauchos, llaneros, and other South American “cowmen,” plus the paniolos of Hawaii, and the renowned African-American cowboys. He also decries the role film and popular literature have played in suppressing the vaqueros’ place in the history of the American West. He tackles an uncommon topic, and will broaden the historical perspective of many young cowboy fans, but his glance at modern vaqueros seems to stop at this country’s borders. Young readers will get a far more detailed, vivid picture of vaquero life and work from the cowboy classics in his annotated bibliography. (Notes, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2001

ISBN: 0-8050-6019-7

Page Count: 116

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2000

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