Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Themed Reviews: Election (Part III)


After the long, arduous campaign process leading to the White House, the newly elected President of the United States of America and his (or, someday, her) family moves into the Presidential Quarters of America's most famous residence. The site was chosen by George Washington and the corner stone was laid in 1792. Eight years later, the White House, designed by James Hoban, was completed. Since 1800 with President John Adams and his wife Abigail as the first official occupants of the White House, there has been a succession of interesting inhabitants in the 1600 Pennsylvania Ave mansion.
   As The White House aged and demands for space grew, several presidents made renovations and additions to the structure. In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt oversaw a renovation and made some significant changes, including moving his office from the Second Floor to what is now known as The West Wing. President William Taft had the Oval Office constructed in an enlarged office wing. During the Truman administration, major renovations were needed due to structural deterioration. Except for the exterior walls, the entire house was gutted and restored. Through the intervening years, The White House has been modified and remodeled to suit the needs of various changes in governmental procedures and to reflect the tastes of different residents.
   More excellent information can be found at the official website of The White House.
   The following facts are from the website:
    White House Trivia
  • There are 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, and 6 levels in the Residence. There are also 412 doors, 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, 8 staircases, and 3 elevators.
  • At various times in history, the White House has been known as the "President's Palace," the "President's House," and the "Executive Mansion." President Theodore Roosevelt officially gave the White House its current name in 1901.
  • Presidential Firsts while in office... President James Polk (1845-49) was the first President to have his photograph taken... President Theodore Roosevelt (1901-09) was not only the first President to ride in an automobile, but also the first President to travel outside the country when he visited Panama... President Franklin Roosevelt (1933-45) was the first President to ride in an airplane.
  • The White House kitchen is able to serve dinner to as many as 140 guests and hors d'oeuvres to more than 1,000.
  • The White House requires 570 gallons of paint to cover its outside surface.
   Some of The White House residents have been the pets of the Presidential Families. It is hard to imagine an alligator lounging in the halls or a flock of sheep grazing on the lawn; but those are only a couple of example of some of the creatures that have taken up residence at the home of America's First Family. The families (and their pets) need to be taken care of as the go about their duties, so there are many people who work at The White House. Their behind-the-scenes efforts support all of the events that are held there, as well as all of the things that are needed to keep a real family well fed and comfortable.


Contributor: Sheilah Egan, Literature Consultant


The President's Stuck in the Bathtub: Poems about the Presidents
Susan Katz
Illustrated by Robert Neubecker

   Susan Katz has turned amusing facts about American Presidents into rhyme. She begins with the fact that George Washington never slept in the White House--although he designed it, the building was not finished until John Adam's term. As for John Adams, we learn he was called "His Rotundity" instead of the title of His Majesty which he advocated should be used for the President. Most of the Presidents through Woodrow Wilson are included-he is the one who kept sheep on the White House Lawn as part of the WWI home front efforts. The title of each poem fits the topic and is followed by the president's name and their dates as president; each verse is followed by a short factual note. Neubecker's good humored illustrations complement the light hearted tone of the text. All in all, middle schoolers introduced to this book are likely to decide history isn't all dry as dust. 2011, Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Ages 8 to 12, $17.99. Reviewer: Mary Hynes-Berry (Children's Literature). 
ISBN: 9780547182216

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