THE HOUSE THAT GEORGE BUILT takes readers through the process of how the president’s house came to be—starting with the contest George held to choose the perfect design for this legendary landmark, all the way to President John Adams’s move into the grandiose home. Cleverly written in the familiar format of "The House That Jack Built," author Suzanne Slade supplements her rhyming verse with lively conversational prose, describing how George was involved in this project from beginning to end, from selecting the ...
THE HOUSE THAT GEORGE BUILT takes readers through the process of how the president’s house came to be—starting with the contest George held to choose the perfect design for this legendary landmark, all the way to President John Adams’s move into the grandiose home. Cleverly written in the familiar format of "The House That Jack Built," author Suzanne Slade supplements her rhyming verse with lively conversational prose, describing how George was involved in this project from beginning to end, from selecting the location to figuring out how to get the thousands of heavy bricks to the construction site. Rebecca Bond’s watercolor illustrations help readers follow the steps to what became the White House as we know it today.
Slade (Climbing Lincoln's Steps) delivers a historical riff on "The House That Jack Built" with this tale of how George Washington oversaw the construction of what would come to be called the White House: "This is the lot,/ that grand, ?scenic spot,/ for the President's House that George built." On most of the right-hand pages, the cumulative verse grows longer, while prose sections at left offer facts about materials, workers, and the house's overall progress as it moves from blueprint to bricks-and-mortar reality; for instance, when the stone supply fell short, "George changed the house plan from three stories to two." In airy watercolor-and-ink illustrations, Bond (In the Belly of an Ox) depicts the stages of construction and captures details of the era's building methods and styles of dress; John and Abigail Adams, the building's first residents, are shown looking around nervously upon moving in ("the plaster walls were still wet, and the winding staircase had only a few steps"). A foreword, author's note, and additional White House facts supply even more details and context to this focused and well-executed project. Ages 6–9. (July)
- Leona Illig
This story about how George Washington planned and supervised the construction of the White House is based on the familiar children's nursery rhyme, "This is the House that Jack Built." The adaptation of the rhyme is skillfully done and will undoubtedly delight young children, but there is much more to the book than that. The layout generally consists of a two-page spread, with the rhyme on the right page and a short, explanatory paragraph on the left page. Young readers should be able to read most of the rhyme, while adults will want to read the paragraph. This creates a nice setting in which parent and child can take turns reading, enriching the experience. There are many facts about the White House that will interest readers. For example, Thomas Jefferson submitted a plan anonymously, and it was rejected in favor of one created by an Irish architect named James Hoban. The original plan called for a three-story building that was later modified to two. Money began to run out and more changes to the original plan had to be made. Also, the roof leaked and when the building was finally ready for habitation, it was John Adams, not George Washington, who was the first president to move in. The large, sometimes full-page illustrations are beautiful, filled with both detail and perspective. Children and parents will want to take some time to really look at the illustrations and talk about what they find. The book also contains a page chronicling changes to the White House by subsequent presidents, an author's note providing more background on the subject, a list of sources used by the author, and additional resources. Reviewer: Leona Illig
A simple, well-constructed overview takes a close look at how the magnificent house at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. was built on an empty piece of land with a view of the Potomac. It was George Washington who conceived of a superb residence for the American President and directed its development over the 11 years it took to build, including surveying, vetting the design and administering the construction from his presidential office to bring the project in on schedule. Slade's clear description of the steps in the building process accompanies Bond's amiable edge-to-edge detailed watercolor depictions of the construction site and its busy progress. A cumulative rhyme--"the house that George built"--accompanies the compact, informative text and serves as a place holder and mnemonic to convey the stages of this impressive undertaking. A charming illustration of John and Abigail Adams, standing at last in a great hall not entirely swept of workmen's tools and stray nails, shows the first of the residents who would leave their mark on this principle residence of democracy. The author's note and list of some of the improvements made by those in residence over the years (tennis courts for Theodore Roosevelt; a vegetable garden for the Obamas) add to a fascinating first history of the White House. Sure to see--and worthy of--plenty of use, and not just in election years. (author's list of sources and suggested resources to learn more) (Informational picture book. 5-10)
Suzanne Slade is the author of more than ninety books for children, including CLIMBING LINCOLN'S STEPS, a Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, and SUSAN B. ANTHONY: FIGHTER FOR FREEDOM AND EQUALITY, an Amelia Bloomer recommended title. Suzanne lives near Chicago, Illinois.