Best Little Stories from the White House is a fascinating collection of more than 100 vignettes drawn from the life and times of America's most famous and legendary home. Here are stories about the house itself and how it has evolved over the years, as well as stories about its famous occupants. Did you know, for instance:
* Woodrow Wilson used to chase up and down the White House corridors and play "rooster fighting" with his daughter Nellie?
* Winston Churchil once suffered a minor heart episode while struggling with a stuck window in the White House?
* Among the menagerie tended to by Theodore Roosevelt's children was a pony named Algonquin, whom the siblings sneaked upstairs in the White House elevator to cheer up their sick brother?
* "Silent" Calvin Coolidge liked to play pranks every so often on his staff -- he would press all the buttons on his desk, then hide behind the door as all manner of Secret Service agents, secretaries, military aides, and other support streamed in?
* At the height of the Cold War, Dwight Eisenhower's new 707 jet was outfitted with spy cameras for a flight to Moscow -- until events forced the plane to turn for home?
* At Boris Yeltsin's first state dinner at the White House -- the first state dinner for a non-Communist Russian leader since the nineteenth century -- George and Barbara Bush presented him with an automatic tennis ball server?
Also included are stories of several first ladies and their experiences on Pennsylvania Avenue, including Dolley Madison, Miss Harriet "Hal" Lane (niece of James Buchanan), Mary Lincoln, Jacqueline Kennedy, Barbara Bush, and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The White House has been home to US presidents since 1800 when John Adams and his family moved in. Each occupant has left his mark on the house in some way. The author makes history come alive for readers with his concise and interesting accounts about the comings and goings in the first family's abode. The stories are often poignant, humorous, or tragic, in their turn. The contents, which are divided into "Beginnings," "Middles," and "Ends," will whet readers' appetites for more presidential history. The author's wife, Ingrid Smyer, penned the section entitled "First Ladies in Review." 1999 (orig. 1992), Cumberland House, Ages 12 up, $14.95. Reviewer: Jeanne K. Pettenati—Children's Literature
C. BRIAN KELLY, a prize-winning journalist, is cofounder of Montpelier Publishing and a former editor for Military History magazine. He is also a lecturer in newswriting at the University of Virginia. Kelly's articles have appeared in Reader's Digest, Friends, Yankee, Rod Serling's Twilight Zone, and other magazines. He is the author of several books on American history and resides in Charlottesville, Virginia.