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