The Great White House Breakout

Helen Thomas, Author, Chip Bok, Illustrator , illus. by Chip Bok. Dial $16.99 (0p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3300-8

Legendary White House reporter Thomas and editorial cartoonist Bok are sadly off their game in their first picture book, an egregious fantasy narrated by a fictional First Son. Tired of being overprotected by bumbling Secret Service agents, Sam takes advice from his pet rat—a brainy refugee from a NASA project who draws an escape plan in the “secret war room” (a White House kitchen). While the rat distracts guests at an official dinner, Sam easily slips his entourage and climbs over the fence, finally free to enjoy a tourist's D.C. Sam's voice warbles distractingly, from disingenuous (“[My cat] is almost as important as Mom [the President]. When he walks into a room, everyone stands”) to precious (“We curled up on a nice man's lap to sleep” accompanies a picture of Sam, cat and rat at the Lincoln Memorial). The illustrations also misfire. Gags aim low, such as a spread of the White House exterior labeling a window “Lincoln's Bedroom” with an arrow pointing to nearby shrubs, “Lincoln's Bathroom?” Editorial asides peppering many spreads are either shamelessly corny or over kids' heads. Ages 6–8. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 08/04/2008
Release date: 07/01/2008
Genre: Children's
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