Witty poetry and equally clever caricatures of all 43 presidents create a book that can add spice to serious studies, but it’s not for beginners.
If the information in the appendix were interspersed with the poems, the less-intelligible ones—such as the four-part conversation among Taylor, Fillmore, Pierce and Buchanan—would begin to make sense. Even so, the backmatter is too spare. For example, only readers who already know such tidbits as the quotation “We have nothing to fear but fear itself” and the slogan “We like Ike” will be able to appreciate lines dedicated to those references. Singer shows mastery of poetic forms, from appropriately “tricky” word wizardry for Nixon to eminently pleasing couplets: “ ‘We will return,’ said Cleveland’s spouse / the day they left their stately house. / She was right—the chief executive / had four more years (though nonconsecutive).” Some of these work well for reading aloud as a team; the Reagan page offers an excellent opportunity for a choral trio to demonstrate differing opinions about a president. Colorful artwork recalls political cartoons of yore, grounding poems in their respective eras, and highlights presidential quotations.
Carefully crafted poetry and artwork ideally suited to history buffs. (author’s note, presidential biographies, sources) (Informational picture book/poetry. 9-13)