It’s not every day that an Irish lad gets to shake hands with the president of the United States.
Recasting his 300-plus–page JFK in Ireland: Four Days that Changed a President (2011) into considerably briefer form, Tubridy commemorates John F. Kennedy’s 1963 visit to his ancestral country and hometown through the eyes of a (fictional) schoolboy. It’s one peak moment after another, as the news that Kennedy is coming to Wexford has Patrick’s dad and dog dancing around the kitchen while his mam sighs “I’m only dying to see him. He’s like something from the movies!” Patrick’s own class is selected to welcome the distinguished guest with a song, then later the two come face to face at a reception. Lynch captures the narrative’s fevered tone in splendidly realistic scenes of close-packed crowds and excited pale faces. Kennedy looks suitably tall, grand, and genial, and Patrick is the very picture of freckle-faced concentration as he slices a Swiss roll and offers it to the great man. “Don’t ever wash that lucky hand of yours!” says the boy’s mam after.
A bit histrionic for easy belief, but meeting the president is always going to be a memorable moment, whoever’s holding the office. (historical note with photos and itinerary) (Informational picture book. 6-9)