GEORGE WASHINGTON’S TEETH

Now It Can Be Told: that severe, square-jawed look that the Father of Our Country flashes in his portraits reveals not only strength of character, but also his struggle to hide the fact that he was nearly (entirely, later in life) toothless by keeping a succession of spring-loaded false teeth in place. Drawing information from Washington’s own writings, the authors deliver a double account of his dental tribulations: first in sprightly rhyme—Martha “fed him mush and pickled tripe, / But when guests came to dine, / He sneaked one of his favorite nuts. / Then he had only nine”—followed by a detailed, annotated timeline. Cole’s (Larky Mavis, 2001, etc.) freely drawn, rumpled-looking watercolors document the countdown as well, with scenes of the unhappy statesman at war and at home, surrounded by family, attendants (including dark-skinned ones), and would-be dentists, all in authentic 18th-century dress. Contrary to popular belief, Washington’s false teeth were made not of wood, but of real teeth and hippo ivory; a photo of his last set closes this breezy, sympathetic, carefully-researched vignette on a note that will have readers feeling the great man’s pain—and never looking at his painted visage the same way again. (source notes) (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2003

ISBN: 0-374-32534-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2002

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KATE LARKIN, THE BONE EXPERT

Eight-year-old Kate Larkin becomes a bone expert when she breaks her humerus, “the bone between the elbow and shoulder,” as she explains. Partly a first-time-I-broke-a-bone book and partly an orthopedic textbook for the sneakers set, this offering for new readers walks them through the break, the hospital experience, the cast and the recovery. Kate’s first-person narration is mature and intelligent, if a tad too easy with scientific details that seem to come straight from a pamphlet in a pediatrician’s office. Black-and-white sketches and diagrams grace every spread and help keep the book grounded in the story of the broken bone. Kate’s face looks appropriately worried, in pain or comforted, even when the prose seems a bit clinical for an eight-year-old. Children are always interested in accidents and broken bones and will respond to this straightforward tale of how Kate spent her summer holiday. (glossary, related activities) (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-8050-7901-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2008

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SAWDUST AND SPANGLES

THE AMAZING LIFE OF W.C COUP

Though so sketchy that his death (and the fact that the title is borrowed from his autobiography) isn’t even mentioned, this profile of the indefatigable and once-renowned circus impresario captures the fascination with spectacle that drove him, alone and in partnership with P.T. Barnum, to organize a number of circuses, sideshows and other popular attractions. The authors tally his innovations, which included the idea of a “circus train,” multiple rings under the Big Top and the magnificent New York Aquarium, and then close with a page of further colorful anecdotes. Potter depicts Coup and some of the circus and sideshow acts he presented in broadly brushed, typically stylized scenes, taking him from dazzled small-town lad to nattily dressed showman proudly presenting his array of marine life to viewers. Barnum tends to outshine all of his contemporaries and successors, but here’s at least a suggestion that his story wasn’t the only one. (Picture book/biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8109-9351-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2007

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