FIRST CHILDREN by Katherine Leiner


Growing Up in the White House
by & illustrated by
Age Range: 8 & up
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 Brief exploration of the lives of some of the children who were part of the households of 17 US presidents. Each chapter opens with a portrait of the featured child in folksy, full-color scratchboard (the more remote the period of dress, the more charming the picture is--Luci Baines Johnson and Amy Carter do not fare well), followed by the text and captioned black-and-white engravings and photographs. Leiner (Halloween, 1993, not reviewed) offers a glimpse of that child's daily life or an aspect of childhood altered by the White House years; her profiles include grandchildren (Washington's), the children of staff members (the Taft administration), and the offspring of presidential aides (the FDR years). Many chapters draw effectively on diaries, correspondence, and news accounts, while tidbits of valuable social history are incorporated throughout. More biographical information comes in the afterword, as well as a complete listing of the all the presidents' children. An admirable project, this is marred by a writing style that lacks a consistent tone and point of view, veering between informal, you-are-there immediacy and awed accounts of the childhoods of famous Americans. The most affecting chapters involve children who dealt with loss--``Tad's Union Blues'' (Lincoln's son) and ``Summer of Sadness'' (Garfield's daughter, Mollie). (bibliography) (Biography. 8+)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-688-13341-X
Page count: 157pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1996