JFK by Jonah Winter


by ; illustrated by
Age Range: 5 - 8
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An homage to the 35th president of the United States, marking the 50th anniversary of his assassination.

Winter frames his narrative with personal statements, opening with an anecdote that he was a baby watching on his father’s shoulders in Dallas on November 22 and concluding with a gushy testimonial. In between, he covers the litany of Kennedy’s sickly childhood, World War II heroism, presidential campaign and three years in office, playing into the Kennedy mythology without restraint. The story of the older brother killed in combat and the second son assuming the political mantle is more legend than fact, and Kennedy’s support of the civil rights movement was more conservative than implied. The crux of the West Virginia primary was whether or not a Catholic could carry a Protestant state, not economics. In addition, the Camelot aura arose from an interview Jacqueline Kennedy gave to Theodore White, not from JFK’s childhood reading. Winter does not mention the space program but does devote a page to the Cuban missile crisis. He concludes that JFK was flawed, but “his words and his spirit live on.” The only sourcing is one website recommended for further reading. The brevity of the form and the youth of the audience is no excuse for hagiography instead of history. Ford’s full-color paintings reproduce period photographs, some making a very good-looking family appear singularly unattractive.

Overwrought and flawed history accompanied by unappealing illustrations. (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 22nd, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-06-176807-1
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2013


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