Based on a true story, Carbone’s story shines a light on the little girl who became the face of the first White House victory garden.
It was 1943, and the United States was at war. Everyone was contributing to the war effort: men were fighting for their country overseas. Women were producing heavy machinery in factories. Ten-year-old Diana Hopkins, who lived in the White House (her father was President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s chief adviser), wanted to help too. At first, she thought she might be a spy and practiced by sneaking into the dumbwaiter. But the housekeeper was not pleased. Then she stuck pins in chairs all around the White House to keep “enemies” at bay. That didn’t go well either, especially since Mrs. Roosevelt’s friend actually sat on one! One day, President Roosevelt presented Diana with the perfect opportunity. Soon, Diana was turning over soil, fertilizing, and planting beans and tomatoes. By the time her vegetables were ready for harvesting, Diana not only provided a bounty for the White House table, but also inspired the whole country to plant victory gardens. Carbone’s straightforward text features just the right details to engage children. It is complemented by Hill’s mix of simple line drawings and muted colors that evoke the era’s austerity. Diana is white, as are the president’s advisers, but many of the White House staff as well as passers-by on Pennsylvania Avenue are black or brown.
An important piece of our history brought down to a child’s level. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 4-10)