cover image Action Presidents #1: George Washington!

Action Presidents #1: George Washington!

Fred Van Lente, illus. by Ryan Dunlavey. Harper, $9.99 (128p) ISBN 978-0-06-239405-7

In a project that evokes Larry Gonick’s Cartoon History series and follows in the vein of Van Lente and Dunlavey’s Action Philosophers! comics, the author and artist deliver a highly irreverent look at the life of George Washington, narrated by a turkey named Noah the Historkey. They highlight pivotal moments and challenges in Washington’s life and poke fun at his leadership struggles, moral contradictions (such as owning slaves while fighting for independence), and reluctance to assume the role of president. Illustrating in the loose, exaggerated style of his previous books, Dunlavey mixes tense sequences of military battles and political confrontations with caricatured reactions and a few contemporary references—a hired Hessian soldier is portrayed as a “G.I. German” action figure (“Break in case of war,” reads the packaging). Van Lente aims to contextualize historical figures who are often blindly lionized (“He wasn’t some mythological demigod,” notes Noah the Historkey), a goal that comes through clearly amid a flurry of gags and jokes. Book two, about Abraham Lincoln, arrives simultaneously. Ages 8–12. [em]Agent: Jason Yarn, Jason Yarn Literary. (Feb.) [/em]