December 27, 2012
The House that George Built by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Rebecca Bond
As the first President of a whole new nation, George Washington had some serious decisions to make. Not least among them, because it would set the mold for future presidents, was where would the president live? Washington knew it had to be a home worthy of a leader. It couldn’t be too small and simple. It couldn’t be too fussy and frilly.
From choosing the land to the finishing touches, Slade’s text is rich with detail. She discusses the kilns built on site to fire the bricks, the cost over runs that meant the building would be one story less than originally intended and so much more. She also points out that, ironically enough, in spite of his hard work on the project, Washington was the only president NOT to live in the White House, originally called the President’s House until Theodore Roosevelt changed the name.
A text with so much detail could easily bog the reader down but Slade keeps things moving. For each two page spread, one page is written in prose, giving details about this particular phase in the building. The facing page is poetry ala, fittingly enough, The House that Jack Built.
Bond’s illustrations, detailed ink drawings with watercolor, give the reader plenty to peruse without being overly detailed or exhausting.
This is an excellent book for children’s interested in history or anyone who is a Washington buff. The youngest readers, or listeners, would be entertained by just the pages of poetry but the older readers will want to experience this book in full.