George Washington’s Birthday: A Mostly True Tale

Margaret McNamara, illus. by Barry Blitt. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-375-84499-7
It’s George Washington’s seventh birthday, but he can’t get anyone to acknowledge it. “Another cold day,” he says, dropping a 10-ton hint on his harried mother. “But I guess there’s nothing special about that.” His stern father isn’t cutting him any slack, either. “Now clean your face and hands and powder your wig and occupy yourself gainfully until dinnertime,” says Mr. Washington after George has carried out some punitive chores (the consequences of taking out his frustrations on a cherry tree). As Blitt (The Adventures of Mark Twain by Huckleberry Finn) chronicles George’s slow burn in his elegant, irreverent ink line, McNamara (The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot) serves up delicious ironies (“Someday I’ll be the boss of you,” George mumbles prophetically as he’s being condescended to by his “tyrant” of an older brother). She also sets the record straight with asides labeled “Myth” (George did not throw a stone across the Rappa-hannock) and “Fact.” This book should add at least a few giggles to any Presidents’ Day festivities, while reminding readers that every great man starts out small. Ages 4–8. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/07/2011
Release date: 01/10/2012
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