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Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out

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More than one hundred leading authors and illustrators donate their talents in a creative tour de force that is making history. Conceived and co-created by the National Children's Book and Literary Alliance, this incomparable collection of essays, personal accounts, historical fiction, and poetry melds with an equally stunning array of original art to offer a multifaceted l More than one hundred leading authors and illustrators donate their talents in a creative tour de force that is making history. Conceived and co-created by the National Children's Book and Literary Alliance, this incomparable collection of essays, personal accounts, historical fiction, and poetry melds with an equally stunning array of original art to offer a multifaceted look at America's history through the prism of the White House. Starting with a 1792 call for designers to plan a presidential mansion and continuing through the present day, OUR WHITE HOUSE takes in everything from the amusing antics of presidents' children and pets to the drama of the White House ablaze and the specter of war; from the role of immigrants, African Americans, and Native Americans to the thoughts and actions of many presidents themselves. These highly engaging writings and illustrations, expressing varied viewpoints and interwoven with key historical events, are a vital resource for family sharing and classroom use — and a stirring reminder that the story of the White House is the story of every American.


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More than one hundred leading authors and illustrators donate their talents in a creative tour de force that is making history. Conceived and co-created by the National Children's Book and Literary Alliance, this incomparable collection of essays, personal accounts, historical fiction, and poetry melds with an equally stunning array of original art to offer a multifaceted l More than one hundred leading authors and illustrators donate their talents in a creative tour de force that is making history. Conceived and co-created by the National Children's Book and Literary Alliance, this incomparable collection of essays, personal accounts, historical fiction, and poetry melds with an equally stunning array of original art to offer a multifaceted look at America's history through the prism of the White House. Starting with a 1792 call for designers to plan a presidential mansion and continuing through the present day, OUR WHITE HOUSE takes in everything from the amusing antics of presidents' children and pets to the drama of the White House ablaze and the specter of war; from the role of immigrants, African Americans, and Native Americans to the thoughts and actions of many presidents themselves. These highly engaging writings and illustrations, expressing varied viewpoints and interwoven with key historical events, are a vital resource for family sharing and classroom use — and a stirring reminder that the story of the White House is the story of every American.

30 review for Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out

  1. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    This book had the potential to be such a fantastic resource and document of our country's White House and the men and women who have lived there and helped shape our country's history. It was a series of stories, anecdotes, illustrations, poems, etc. by some of the United State's most prominent children's authors and illustrators. With the exception of a few stories and illustrations, most of this book was pretty uninteresting and downright boring. I was really baffled at some of the selections This book had the potential to be such a fantastic resource and document of our country's White House and the men and women who have lived there and helped shape our country's history. It was a series of stories, anecdotes, illustrations, poems, etc. by some of the United State's most prominent children's authors and illustrators. With the exception of a few stories and illustrations, most of this book was pretty uninteresting and downright boring. I was really baffled at some of the selections that were chosen and really uninspired by most of what I read. I was so disappointed!! I love U.S. history and wanted to love this book!

  2. 4 out of 5

    J-Lynn Van Pelt

    Some of the most loved authors and illustrators of picture books come together for this edited collection about The White House. Created by the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance, the book has poems, graphic novel spreads, political cartoons, letters, historical notes, and stories as well as a collection of illustrations that are just as diverse as the writing. This is an excellent historical resource because each entry is concise. The entries could be used collectively or individuall Some of the most loved authors and illustrators of picture books come together for this edited collection about The White House. Created by the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance, the book has poems, graphic novel spreads, political cartoons, letters, historical notes, and stories as well as a collection of illustrations that are just as diverse as the writing. This is an excellent historical resource because each entry is concise. The entries could be used collectively or individually and for both reading and writing assignments.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    This is a huge release from Candlewick. We have lecturn floor displays coming. Ask Jan how excited she is about this one. Laydown date: September 9, 2008!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    This book was created by the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance and has stories and pictures by 110 renowned authors and illustrators. Some of the stories are factual, while others are fantasy and whimsical, and sometimes you don't know the difference. The reader gets to go behind the scenes of many presidents in the White House. For example, during the reign of President Theodore Roosevelt, it says that there were animals all over the place because he "believed that children's 'anim This book was created by the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance and has stories and pictures by 110 renowned authors and illustrators. Some of the stories are factual, while others are fantasy and whimsical, and sometimes you don't know the difference. The reader gets to go behind the scenes of many presidents in the White House. For example, during the reign of President Theodore Roosevelt, it says that there were animals all over the place because he "believed that children's 'animal spirits' should be given free vein." Besides cats and dogs, there were hens, rabbits, flying squirrels, kangaroo rats, a macaw bird, a snake, and a Shetland pony. A two-page spread illustration shows all these creatures coming down a red carpeted stairway in the White House with the children, while Teddy Roosevelt stands at the bottom laughing. Whether all of these animals and bird actually were allowed to be so free, I'm not sure. There is a ton of activities teachers can do in their classroom that are suggested on the website ourwhitehouse.org that is in relation to this book. Click under the tab, "Education & Literacy," and you'll find sections such as education kits, research resources, and field trip guides.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bargain Sleuth Book Reviews

    Very uneven book, which might be expected with a lot of authors. Sometimes the story just ends, without a clear resolution. Sometimes things aren't explained well, and if I were a kid, I'd have a lot more questions than answers. Some of the information provided was new to me, which was surprising because I read a lot of presidential history. There was one section that I felt didn't belong. It was a transcript of Robert Kennedy's speech in Indianapolis after Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed. I Very uneven book, which might be expected with a lot of authors. Sometimes the story just ends, without a clear resolution. Sometimes things aren't explained well, and if I were a kid, I'd have a lot more questions than answers. Some of the information provided was new to me, which was surprising because I read a lot of presidential history. There was one section that I felt didn't belong. It was a transcript of Robert Kennedy's speech in Indianapolis after Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed. I admire Kennedy immensely (my son is named Robert in part because of RFK), but it had no business being in a book about the White House.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth S

    Some entries were awesome, some blah, and some conflicting. An example of conflicting, is the story about Dolly Madison saving the painting of Washington as the British advanced toward the Presidential Mansion (later named The White House). Two entries said she did, and another said that was a false report. So... ? I also had some questions about which entries were fact and which fiction. I would have appreciated a little more context and clarity. Some entries were nice little things about presid Some entries were awesome, some blah, and some conflicting. An example of conflicting, is the story about Dolly Madison saving the painting of Washington as the British advanced toward the Presidential Mansion (later named The White House). Two entries said she did, and another said that was a false report. So... ? I also had some questions about which entries were fact and which fiction. I would have appreciated a little more context and clarity. Some entries were nice little things about presidents, but didn't really tell us anything about the white house itself. Overall, interesting and informative. Not comprehensive, not reliable.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    A unique approach to a children's presidential history book, but full of gaps. Some unsavory details are brushed over at best and completely lied about at worst to make the US look better. Some presidents are omitted entirely. But still, creative and entertaining. A unique approach to a children's presidential history book, but full of gaps. Some unsavory details are brushed over at best and completely lied about at worst to make the US look better. Some presidents are omitted entirely. But still, creative and entertaining.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Wardrip

    Reviewed by Allison Fraclose for TeensReadToo.com On March 14, 1792, building commissioners in charge of the newly planned capitol city of the infant United States government issued a call for designs on a presidential mansion. The person who submitted the winning design would win five hundred dollars or a medal of the same value for their plans. Over the next few years, with the combined efforts of world renowned builders, immigrant workers, and even slaves, the most famous house in the country Reviewed by Allison Fraclose for TeensReadToo.com On March 14, 1792, building commissioners in charge of the newly planned capitol city of the infant United States government issued a call for designs on a presidential mansion. The person who submitted the winning design would win five hundred dollars or a medal of the same value for their plans. Over the next few years, with the combined efforts of world renowned builders, immigrant workers, and even slaves, the most famous house in the country rose from the ground, and admitted its first official residents--John and Abigail Adams--in the year 1800. Today, that same house serves as much more than just the living quarters of the presidential family. Historic events that have shaped the course of the United States have taken place within its walls. On the flipside, some of the most insignificant things that have happened there have kept not only the nation, but the entire world, intrigued for generations. From devastating fires to the antics of the president's children, from whacky pets to the ghosts of former residents, from the press corps to the secret service, and from weddings to some really tough decisions...these are only a few small slices of what this house has seen. To the hundreds of beings who stay, visit, and work in this house every day, and to the millions of people affected by what happens in it, the White House serves as a symbol of hope, peace, and togetherness, making it not just a presidential house, but a house that belongs to all. This impressive collection of stories, anecdotes, essays, and illustrations has been assembled by the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance to offer a wide range of insight into how this historic house has shaped and changed so many lives. They've also put together a comprehensive website at www.ourwhitehouse.org which expands on the information and stories featured in the book. You can even download a Barack Obama sticker to add to the line of presidents found in the book's timetable.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    Impressive. This was a huge undertaking. The process of conceptualizing, organizing and synthesizing would make for an interesting story in itself. Informative. Obama was the 44th President, and there are 110 entries, so obviously some Presidents merit more than one glance. At least one President didn't even earn an entry (Gerald Ford). Most entries have direct connections to the White House, but not all (e.g, a few paragraphs from RFK's tribute to Martin Luther King). Lynda Johnson Robb and Jimm Impressive. This was a huge undertaking. The process of conceptualizing, organizing and synthesizing would make for an interesting story in itself. Informative. Obama was the 44th President, and there are 110 entries, so obviously some Presidents merit more than one glance. At least one President didn't even earn an entry (Gerald Ford). Most entries have direct connections to the White House, but not all (e.g, a few paragraphs from RFK's tribute to Martin Luther King). Lynda Johnson Robb and Jimmy Carter contributed their own stories, both of which were among the best. Two entries seemed totally out of place -- Meg Cabot's fantasy that involved time travel and Polly Horvath's awkward tale about taking souvenirs. In contrast, Patricia MacLachlan wrote a lovely story that pays tribute to Eleanor Roosevelt. In several places, I wanted to contribute my own two cents worth, but none more so than for John F. Kennedy. The Cuban Missile Crisis was the focus, but I think the emphasis on physical fitness should have been featured since this is a book for kids. A whole generation of students did push ups, chin ups, runs, rope climbs ... and were given goals that they were expected to achieve. While I enjoyed every page (almost) of this book, it might be a challenge to use in a classroom, mainly because the target audience isn't obvious, maybe 6th or 7th grade. It could be argued that it's for lower grades, but there are too many names and historical events that would mean nothing to kids. Maybe a teacher would select some entries to use with the class and then have the book available for interested readers to pick up on their own. Missing: a basic description of the White House. A pictorial map on pp 182-183 shows the 'neighborhood,' but nothing is labeled.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Fjóla

    This book doesn't quite make the cut as a proper picture book for children, although it does contain beautiful art from many of the most prominent illustrators of today. It's not a book for young children either, for that most of the texts are too wordy and not particularly child friendly either. But older children might enjoy it a lot if they're interested in our history. There should be something for everyone in there. I'll admit that some of the segments I only glanced through however. But a This book doesn't quite make the cut as a proper picture book for children, although it does contain beautiful art from many of the most prominent illustrators of today. It's not a book for young children either, for that most of the texts are too wordy and not particularly child friendly either. But older children might enjoy it a lot if they're interested in our history. There should be something for everyone in there. I'll admit that some of the segments I only glanced through however. But a handful I really liked and a couple touched me deeply: My favorites . the poem by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Petra Mathers . Jefferson's Monstrous Bones by Kerley . the story of the seamstress Elizabeth Keckly by the McKissacks . the story the seven presidents from Ohio, by Babbitt . the shockingly earnest account of Hoover's One Term by Matt Phelan (in graphic format) . My Room by Lynda Johnson Robb

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    This is an eclectic collection of stories, vignettes, primary sources (speeches and letters), illustrations, poems, imagined dialogues, historical retellings, and more, connected not always to the White House (though some are), but more to the presidency and to momentous happenings that involve the president and government. It's arranged chronologically, starting with the original White House and going up through the second George Bush. The fictional parts and illustrations were done by a multit This is an eclectic collection of stories, vignettes, primary sources (speeches and letters), illustrations, poems, imagined dialogues, historical retellings, and more, connected not always to the White House (though some are), but more to the presidency and to momentous happenings that involve the president and government. It's arranged chronologically, starting with the original White House and going up through the second George Bush. The fictional parts and illustrations were done by a multitude of well-known children's book authors and illustrators. I didn't enjoy this as much as I thought I would, since it really wasn't all that much about the house. The most interesting story is the "true" story behind what really happened when the White House burned during Madison's presidency. The other entries varied in interest level, and I'm afraid I had to push myself to finish the book--I kept putting it down. I don't know how interested children would be to read this.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Edie

    This is just about a perfect book for everyone, informative, fun, beautifully illustrated and covering all aspects of White House Life. Where else can you hear from Socks and the seamstress to Mary Todd Lincoln and learn about the bones that Thomas Jefferson brought to the White House. Just about everyone who is anyone in children's literature contributed to this book, Katherine Paterson, Virginia Euwer Wolff, Jane Yolen, Ed Young, Jon Scieszka, over 100 "top guns." The cover is by David Macaula This is just about a perfect book for everyone, informative, fun, beautifully illustrated and covering all aspects of White House Life. Where else can you hear from Socks and the seamstress to Mary Todd Lincoln and learn about the bones that Thomas Jefferson brought to the White House. Just about everyone who is anyone in children's literature contributed to this book, Katherine Paterson, Virginia Euwer Wolff, Jane Yolen, Ed Young, Jon Scieszka, over 100 "top guns." The cover is by David Macaulay and there is an introduction by David McCullough. Buy it for all of your friends and keep a copy or two for yourself. The proceeds also go to a good cause, the literacy council. The creators will be at Politics and Prose Bookstore on Sept. 26 and at the National Book Festival on the Mall on Sept. 27.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kate N

    I really enjoyed this book! All it is is short stories about each president of the US. Some of the things I learned were, Franklin Roosevelt was the only president to serve 3 terms. Woodrow Wilson cried after signing the paperwork to join World War 1. Teddy Roosevelt's son died in WW1 (after Teddy left office). Harry Truman didn't live in the White House most of the time because it was under renovation during his presidency. It was interesting to read Dick Cheney's account of 9/11. Once the 2nd I really enjoyed this book! All it is is short stories about each president of the US. Some of the things I learned were, Franklin Roosevelt was the only president to serve 3 terms. Woodrow Wilson cried after signing the paperwork to join World War 1. Teddy Roosevelt's son died in WW1 (after Teddy left office). Harry Truman didn't live in the White House most of the time because it was under renovation during his presidency. It was interesting to read Dick Cheney's account of 9/11. Once the 2nd plane hit, and they could see the 3rd plane had changed course and appeared to be heading towards the White House, the Secret Service 'were not polite anymore' and literally grabbed Cheney and hauled him down to the secure tunnel below the White House. Lots of fun stories I want to read to my kids too.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kerry Kenney

    I bought this book for my birthday and it is a treat. It offers a good selection of white house stories. A weakness of the collection is that it doesn't strike the right tone for kids. When I was reading some of the chapters I thought "Is a child going to be hooked by this?" I love the illustrations. I also think that since there are very few books about the glorious White House that are aimed at young readers this is definitely a fine start. I bought this book for my birthday and it is a treat. It offers a good selection of white house stories. A weakness of the collection is that it doesn't strike the right tone for kids. When I was reading some of the chapters I thought "Is a child going to be hooked by this?" I love the illustrations. I also think that since there are very few books about the glorious White House that are aimed at young readers this is definitely a fine start.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    There's something for everyone in this nifty collaborative effort. History, trivia, adventure, humor and illustrations by "more than one hundred celebrated authors and illustrators." The reader gets just a snippet of info in most pieces; I often yearned f or more substance from some of the great authors, but this book presumably will draw kids in and perhaps send them off for more details on the story/trivia/period that captivates them. There's something for everyone in this nifty collaborative effort. History, trivia, adventure, humor and illustrations by "more than one hundred celebrated authors and illustrators." The reader gets just a snippet of info in most pieces; I often yearned f or more substance from some of the great authors, but this book presumably will draw kids in and perhaps send them off for more details on the story/trivia/period that captivates them.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sam Bloom

    This book is truly wonderful - actually, it would make an awesome upper-elementary history textbook. The contributing authors (Jon Szciezka, Jerry Spinelli, Natalie Babbitt, etc.) and illustrators (Chris Raschka, Brian Selznick, Annie Barrows, etc.) are top-notch, and the vignettes are fascinating. I really hope this wins some kind of award at ALA; it certainly deserves it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Terri

    This book was designed to help confront historical illiteracy. It was written by 108 different authors and illustrators. It really is a beautiful book. It is full of short stories and wonderful artwork, all about the history of our country. One of my favorite stories was written by Jimmy Carter. I highly recommend this book, even if you only read some of the stories.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sandy Brehl

    Contributions by 108 renowned authors and illustrators make this unique and worthy for any collection. beyond that, there is something for everyone here, although primarily older readers who have some sense of American history. This has something for everyone and it's not necessary to read through from cover to cover: poems, expository text, maps, portraits, diagrams, illustrations, essays. Contributions by 108 renowned authors and illustrators make this unique and worthy for any collection. beyond that, there is something for everyone here, although primarily older readers who have some sense of American history. This has something for everyone and it's not necessary to read through from cover to cover: poems, expository text, maps, portraits, diagrams, illustrations, essays.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Taylor

    Our White House is full of different real stories about the history of the White House. It shares stories of the people that lived in it and events that happened to the building. It's made up of personal essays and poetry. Although it contains some historical fiction, most of the book is nonfiction. I would use this book in my classroom during a unit on the President. Our White House is full of different real stories about the history of the White House. It shares stories of the people that lived in it and events that happened to the building. It's made up of personal essays and poetry. Although it contains some historical fiction, most of the book is nonfiction. I would use this book in my classroom during a unit on the President.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    I just got this book in the mail and it is a real treasure of artwork, prose, poetry and photography about the White House and its history and inhabitants. I look forward to spending more time with it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jess Gill

    wonderful compilation of stories about past presidents, their families, and the time spent in the White House. i really enjoyed reading some of my favorite children's authors stories, as well as the variety of illustrations that accompanied the stories from many well-known children's illustrators. wonderful compilation of stories about past presidents, their families, and the time spent in the White House. i really enjoyed reading some of my favorite children's authors stories, as well as the variety of illustrations that accompanied the stories from many well-known children's illustrators.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    Excellent variety and a very interesting read about the 'executive mansion', the people who lived there and it's history. "Created by 108 Renowned Authors and Illustrators and the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance". Excellent variety and a very interesting read about the 'executive mansion', the people who lived there and it's history. "Created by 108 Renowned Authors and Illustrators and the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance".

  23. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    This is the book I'll read to my kids before they go to bed. So much better than princess stories. This is the book I'll read to my kids before they go to bed. So much better than princess stories.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Laura Tabrizipour

    I think this is a good book to use when teaching children about US history and about the white house. I think the children could do a project about the white house after reading this book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Juliej

    Not a kid friendly book, but informative. Its just not what I wanted it to be.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Karen Gibson

    You know it is a good nonfiction book when it makes you want to read more.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Edelmann

    I loved this beautiful "coffee table" book! It is truly written for children of all ages, and is an artistic, educational, funny, emotional, and creative tribute to our nation's house. I loved this beautiful "coffee table" book! It is truly written for children of all ages, and is an artistic, educational, funny, emotional, and creative tribute to our nation's house.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    Appealing to all ages -- beautiful illustrations, wonderful stories and tidbits about the White House and its occupants. Only drawback is that it came out before our new first family moved in.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kristy

    Gorgeous, beautifully written and illustrated. Most of the stories/poems/speeches I've never heard before and they were such a surprise, so revealing. Gorgeous, beautifully written and illustrated. Most of the stories/poems/speeches I've never heard before and they were such a surprise, so revealing.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    I really enjoyed sharing many of the stories with my children. A fun way to learn of our nation's history. I really enjoyed sharing many of the stories with my children. A fun way to learn of our nation's history.

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