Hanoch Piven, Author . S&S/Atheneum $15.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-689-86880-1

In this comical collection of portraits of U.S. presidents, Piven (The Perfect Purple Feather ) capitalizes on children's interest in unusual historical facts by juxtaposing a short anecdote next to a clever, collage caricature. Reagan plays ping-pong with the chimpanzee from Bedtime for Bonzo , while obese Taft literally gets stuck in the White House bathtub with a yellow duckie. Piven not only captures expressions but zeroes in on personality traits. He references George W. Bush's enthusiasm for sports with a nose and eyebrows created from a hot dog and bun, while tiny baseballs outline his bemused mouth. Bill Clinton's gummy-bear grin is turned upside-down to illustrate his teacher giving him a C for "raising his hand too often." Piven nicely varies the compositions: Teddy Roosevelt gets a spread with spot illustrations of his many interests, while Thomas Jefferson appears across the gutter from Andrew Jackson (the duel-prone president's eyes are made from bullets). The title of the book is intriguing, and the text and portraits cohere thematically, but the repeated riff on the titular phrase does not always work (e.g., "Presidents are made of comfortable shoes ," "Presidents are made of speed demons "). Although not every president is represented, a closing "Presidential Timeline" shows portraits or photos of all the inhabitants of the Oval Office. Published just in time for the election, these funny historical tidbits about American presidents are bound to delight grade school history buffs. Ages 6-10. (July)

Reviewed on: 08/02/2004
Release date: 07/01/2004
Prebound-Sewn - 32 pages - 978-0-606-23670-6
Paperback - 40 pages - 978-1-4424-4433-1
Portable Document Format (PDF) - 40 pages - 978-1-4424-4520-8
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