George Did It


George Washington was not afraid of responsibility. When the Colonies needed a commander-in-chief to build an army, George did it. And when they needed his army to fight the British, George did it. But when Americans asked George to be the first president of the brand-new United States, he politely said,"NO, THANK YOU." Here is the whimsical story of how our first president tried to avoid his most important job. Filled with little-known and funny facts, this book reveals a more personal side of Washington—a great...

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George Washington was not afraid of responsibility. When the Colonies needed a commander-in-chief to build an army, George did it. And when they needed his army to fight the British, George did it. But when Americans asked George to be the first president of the brand-new United States, he politely said,"NO, THANK YOU." Here is the whimsical story of how our first president tried to avoid his most important job. Filled with little-known and funny facts, this book reveals a more personal side of Washington—a great leader who could also be a little nervous.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
From the opening lines, Jurmain's (Freedom's Sons) lighthearted, anecdotal look at the war-weary general's reluctant agreement to run for election takes on a snappy tone: "In 1789, almost everyone in the country wanted George Washington to be the first president of the United States of America. Everyone-except George." The narrative flashes back to prior jobs Americans had asked the honest, dependable man to do-which he did-including leading the Colonial army to victory and helping to write the Constitution. But, the author explains (smoothly incorporating Washington's own words), "Nothing in his whole life... filled him with `greater anxiety' than the thought of being president." Pressured by friends and strangers, he acquiesced, yet after his election admitted, "he felt like a criminal who was `going to... his execution.' " Jurmain shares entertaining details of the subsequent weeks: Washington had to borrow money from a Virginia neighbor to fund his trip to New York for the inauguration; the inaugural ceremony was delayed because members of Congress forgot to bring a Bible; and the nervous president "quivered all over like a six-foot custard" while making his speech. Readers will likely find this candid revelation of Washington's apprehension and self-doubt both endearing and inspiring. Day's (Who Was Annie Oakley?) occasionally grainy, animated art captures the text's cheerfulness and helps to put an appealing, human face on this larger-than-life leader. Ages 5-up. (Dec.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
"His Exalted High Mightiness, the President of the United States" is what some members of Congress wanted to call the newly elected leader, George Washington. He was relieved when it was decided to address him as "President," since he did not want anyone to think that he was trying to be a king. George Washington was reluctant to become president after having spent fourteen years in the struggle for freedom from the British, and after helping to write the Constitution following the war. He just wanted to return to Mt. Vernon and work on his home, farm, and enjoy his country life. The author gives us a look at the very real person Washington was, as well as documenting much of the history surrounding his major contributions to the development of the nation we know today. She recounts how Washington rose to the occasion when asked to lead the American Army in the fight for freedom from Britain: "George did it." She tells how hard it was to help design a new government to unite the thirteen colonies. "But George did it." However, when the time came to elect a leader for the new nation, George Washington did not want to say "yes" to the people's request to be the first president. Told with humor, Jurmain reveals the trepidation with which GW approached becoming president: he was nervous. The illustrations of authentic clothing, tools, furniture, etc., reflect the text nicely. The pictures also give those who know something about the period or George Washington several opportunities for chuckles. In a scene where the people are pestering him to become president, he is shown leaving a dentist's office with a bandage around his jaw. The sign in the window says "false teeth made here." The trendtoward text dense picture books is well suited for sharing history with young audiences and for making memorable presentations of facts that could be dry. This title will inform and amuse, as well as reassure those who do not relish public speaking--neither did George, but he did it. A bibliography is included. 2006, Dutton/Penguin, Ages 6 to 9.
—Sheilah Egan
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-Complemented by witty cartoon drawings, a lively text explains why Americans wanted George Washington to be their first president and how reluctant the successful general felt about accepting the position. While the man is portrayed in a positive historical light, the book also shows his human side and his nervous, embarrassed, and anxious feelings. Surrounded by humorous caricatures of other founding fathers, Washington relates his reactions to the whirlwind activities of the eight days leading to his inauguration depicted through facial expressions and emotional actions. Color conveys a sense of patriotism and excitement for the new nation. Several pictures include a cleverly placed red fox that mimics the actions and responds to the events of the patriot's life. Although many books on Washington are available for this audience, few focus on a particular segment of his life while also providing bibliographical information. Based in part on recollections by George Washington Parke Custis, Washington's adopted son, this is a factual, focused, and entertaining account of the making of the nation's first president.-Julie R. Ranelli, Episcopal Center for Children, Washington, DC Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Jurmain catches the Father of His Country wrestling with anxiety in this amusing historical anecdote. Having competently guided the Continental Army to victory and helped to shape the Constitution afterward, George longs for a well-earned retirement-but no, now he's under pressure to become the fledgling country's first president. Contemplating the job's daunting challenges, he accedes only with great reluctance. Feeling (he writes) like a criminal "going to . . . his execution," he borrows some money for travel expenses and undertakes the triumphal journey from Mount Vernon to the temporary capital in New York. There, after a few glitches (no one remembers to bring a Bible, for instance), he's sworn in, delivers a stumbling, mumbling speech, then quietly walks back to his office and rolls up his sleeves. Day captures George's nervousness, and the lighthearted tone of Jurmain's account, with informal but respectful scenes of the tall, beak-nosed dignitary looking every inch the great leader even when sweating in summer's heat or lifting up his diminutive wife for a farewell smooch. An unusually intimate point of view for this audience. (source list) (Picture book/biography. 7-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142408957
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/27/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 349,833
  • Age range: 5 years
  • Product dimensions: 8.54 (w) x 10.81 (h) x 0.06 (d)

Meet the Author

Suzanne Tripp Jurmain lives in Los Angeles, California. Larry Day lives in Chicago, Illinois.

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