Skip to main content

President Taft Stuck is Stuck in the Bath by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen



President Taft is Stuck in the Bath is the newest book from Mac Barnett, a favorite of mine, who has teamed up with another favorite of mine, Chris Van Dusen!

Before the story even starts, Barnett's humor in is fine form. The jacket flap of President Taft is Stuck in the Bath reads, "George Washington crossed the Delaware in the dead of night. Abraham Lincoln saved the Union. William Howard Taft got stuck in the bathtub and then got unstuck. This is his story." As Barnett's author's note tells us, Taft's tub story may not have actually happened at all, but there are hard, cold porcelain facts that Taft had specially made bathtubs installed in the White House, the battleship USS North Carolina, his private yacht, the Mayflower and in the Presidential Suite at the Hotel Taft, where he moved after leaving office. But, as Barnett says, whether or not Taft actually got stuck in the bath, "more than a century later, this is the story we're still telling. And to people like me, that's all that matters." And, because it matters to Mac and Chris, we get this fantastic picture book to keep it alive!

I can't imagine anyone besides Chris Van Dusen illustrating President Taft is Stuck in the Bath. From the girth of the president as he struggles to free himself from the bath, rolls of rosy pink flesh overflowing the rim, to the facial expressions that accompany every grunt, twist and Presidential order that leaves his mouth as he and his advisors try to come up with a solution to this presidential-sized problem.


Mrs. Taft is first on the scene, but Willy won't listen to Nellie. He calls in the Vice President, then the secretary of state, then the secretary of agriculture, then the secretary of war. When their suggestions to diet, use butter and/or use explosives don't satisfy the President, he calls in more secretaries who have equally ridiculously-job-appropriate-ideas.


Finally, there are enough people in the room that Nellie suggests they use their arms instead of their brains and pull Willy out of the bath. What happens next is as funny as everything that has come before and the perfect ending for this possibly apocryphal story. Van Dusen is to be commended for skillfully, modestly and as respectfully as possible illustrating a picture book that has a naked president on every single page!

President Taft is Stuck in the Bath is a very fun book and, with Common Core Standards kicking in, the historical aspects of this book will definitely draw attention.

Source: Review Copy


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Seeing Stick, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Daniela J Terrazini

The Seeing Stick is an original Chinese fairy tale written by the prolific (and prolifically award winning) Jane Yolen. First published in 1977 with illustrations by Remy Charlip (author and illustrator of the brilliantly fun picture book Fortunately and friend and muse to Brian Selznick, who asked him to pose as George Méliès while he was working on the Caldecott winning The Invention of Hugo Cabret) The Seeing Stick was reissued with new illustrations by Daniela J. Terrazini in 2009. I have not seen Charlip's version, but Terrazini's is a beautiful work of art and the book itself is yet another magnificently packaged book published by Running Press, the house that brought us Steven Arntson's The Wikkeling, yet another superbly and uniquely packaged children's book with artwork by Terrazini. Interestingly, both The Wikkeling and The Seeing Stick were designed by Frances J Soo Ping Chow.

The Seeing Stick begins, "Once in the ancient walled citadel of Peking there l…

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!

Be…