Big Cheese for the White House

( 1 )

Overview

Based on a true moment in American history, this funny picture book celebrates the ingenuity and community spirit of one small New England town as it attempts to make the country's biggest cheese for the nation's greatest man.

A Children's Book of the Year, Bank Street College

In 1801, the townspeople of Chesire, Massachusetts, create a gigantic cheddar cheese to present to President Jefferson at ...

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Overview

Based on a true moment in American history, this funny picture book celebrates the ingenuity and community spirit of one small New England town as it attempts to make the country's biggest cheese for the nation's greatest man.

A Children's Book of the Year, Bank Street College

In 1801, the townspeople of Chesire, Massachusetts, create a gigantic cheddar cheese to present to President Jefferson at his New Year's Day party.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A satisfying, well-aged slice of American lore." —Publishers Weekly

"A little-known piece of American history is at the center of this humorous story. When the people of Cheshire, MA, hear that President Jefferson is eating cheddar made in Norton, CT, instead of their own, they decide to do something about it. Against all odds, they make a 1235-pound wheel of cheese and ship it to the president, who declares it the best that he has ever tasted." —School Library Journal

"The author and illustrator bring to life an incident right out of history in this droll picture book enhanced by lively, color-washed pen-and-ink drawings . . . A humorous tale with a wide range of appeal and uses in and out of the classroom." —Kirkus Reviews

Horn Book
(Primary)
Sometimes, as this lively picture book proves, truth is stranger than fiction. At the time of Jefferson's presidency, the folks in Cheshire, Massachusetts, home of the best cheese in the United States, "heard news that threatened to sour their curds forever." Several Cheshire citizens reported that the townsfolk of Norton, Connecticut, were not only coloring their cheddar and flavoring it as well, they were also the favored suppliers to the nation's premier dwelling-the White House. Such an exigency demanded drastic action. Elder John Leland proposed a solution: a concerted effort to make a huge cheddar as a gift for President Jefferson-a cheese so large that he would serve it for years, thus eliminating the competition. Except for the dissenting voice of Phineas Dobbs, a curmudgeon if ever there was one, the citizens of Cheshire embarked on their historic project. How they solved problems from finding a cheese press large enough to squeeze the whey to transporting the huge object to Washington is a triumph of Yankee ingenuity documented in a reportorial, tongue-in-cheek style, extended in droll, elegantly limned pen, ink, and watercolor illustrations. The book is handsome-as pleasing to look at as it is delightful to read. m.m.b.
Publishers Weekly
In the late 19th century, the folks of Cheshire, Mass., a locale known for its delectable cheddar, grow disgruntled when they learn that the president is serving cheese from a Connecticut town. PW called the story "a satisfying, well-aged slice of American lore." Ages 4-8. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
As she did in The Hatmaker's Sign, Fleming once again parlays a little-known historical nugget into a diverting picture book. In the late 19th century, the folks of Cheshire, Mass., a locale known for its delectable cheddar, grow mighty disgruntled when they learn that President Thomas Jefferson is offering cheese from a Connecticut town to his White House visitors. The Cheshire residents band together to produce a gigantic wheel of cheese that will catch the Chief's eye and please his palate for years. They gather produce from every milk-yielding bovine in nearby pastures into a "cow-created river," a large apple press squeezes whey from the curds and the village blacksmith pounds out an enormous hoop to hold the 1235-pound, four-foot-high cheese. A town elder, accompanied by the cranky local naysayer transports the formidable fromage by sleigh and ship to the White House, where Jefferson "cut into the cheddar's golden glory." With his finely detailed, droll pen and watercolor pictures, Schindler, who collaborated with Fleming on Madame LaGrande and Her So High, to the Sky, Uproarious Pompadour, wryly captures both the period flavor and tall-tale tone of the story. A satisfying, well-aged slice of American lore. Ages 6-10. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-A little-known piece of American history is at the center of this humorous story. When the people of Cheshire, MA, hear that President Jefferson is eating cheddar made in Norton, CT, instead of their own, they decide to do something about it. Against all odds, they make a 1235-pound wheel of cheese and ship it to the president, who declares it the best that he has ever tasted, puts it in the record books, and serves it until it finally goes bad. Using a cast of amusing characters that include little Humphrey Crock, who is good at arithmetic; Elder John, the real-life mastermind of the scheme; and the doubting Phineas Dobbs, who scoffs every step of the way, Fleming makes this strange bit of history interesting and funny. Each of the characters has a distinct personality, and the watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations bring all of them to life. Schindler's detailed, cartoonlike artwork integrates well with the witty text. An author's note separates fact from fiction and explains what happened next. This book would be a great choice for classroom units on history, world records, cheese making, or even on succeeding at something that seems impossible. It's also a good bet for anyone looking to liven up historical fiction collections for the younger set.-Amy Lilien-Harper, Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The author and illustrator bring to life an incident right out of history in this droll picture book enhanced by lively, color-washed pen-and-ink drawings. In Cheshire, Massachusetts, the home of mouth-watering cheese, the local residents grumble that President Jefferson is serving cheese from Norton, Connecticut, at the White House. "I have an idea," says Elder John Leland to the assembled town folk, "If each of you will give one day's milking from each of your many cows, we can put our curds together and create a whopping big cheddar." Although some people scoff, the farmers bring load after load of milk—from 934 cows—to town and they set about making an enormous cheese. There are problems along the way, but eventually the giant cheese is dragged to a barn to age. At last it is perfect, and Mr. Leland and friends start the long haul to the East Room of White House. In a foreword, the author explains the truth and fiction in the tale, e.g., that the presidential residence wasn't called the White House until about 1809. A humorous tale with a wide range of appeal and uses in and out of the classroom. (Picture book. 8-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374406271
  • Publisher: Square Fish
  • Publication date: 3/28/2004
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 1,376,022
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.64 (w) x 5.38 (h) x 0.08 (d)

Meet the Author

Candace Fleming, author of Boxes for Katje and The Hatmaker's Sign, lives in Mount Prospect, Illinois.

S. D. Schindler has illustrated many picture books. He lives in Philadelphia.

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