According to presidential lore, George Washington was said to have had a set of false teeth made of wood. A new picture book by Deborah Chandra and first-time author Madeleine Comora (whose father is a dental surgeon), illus. by Brock Cole (also a dentist's son) sets the record—and the teeth—straight. In George Washington's Teeth (FSG, Feb.), readers learn that although Washington never sported wooden chompers, he did indeed require a full set of dentures by his 60s. He began losing teeth to decay and infection in his 20s and had but one natural tooth left by 1794 (age 62). The situation caused him such pain, stress and embarrassment that he never smiled in public, leading many to believe he was a dour man.
With rhyming text and much humor, George Washington's Teeth dispels rumors of a cranky commander-in-chief. To promote the new title, FSG is going for the grin factor, distributing toothbrush kits containing a miniature brush and small tube of toothpaste at various conferences and mailing them to press outlets. February is, coincidentally, perfect timing for this campaign, as George Washington's birthday, Presidents' Day and National Dental Month are all celebrated then. The authors will do a signing on George's big day, Saturday, February 22, at the Barnes & Noble in Burbank, Calif. The two women, who both live in Southern California, will also appear at other local bookstores in early March.
All told, FSG is proud to help young readers "brush up" on American and dental history. Four out of five dentists will likely recommend the book, too, reminding kids they "only have to brush the teeth they want to keep."