Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Inauguration Day- The White House

Méndez, Yamile Saied. Shaking Up the House  
January 5th 2021 by HarperCollins
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Winnie and Ingrid Lopez have been living in the White House for eight years, ever since they were very young. Winnie is ready to get out of the spotlight, but Ingrid is a little more sentimental about living in a national treasure. When a new family, President Elect Williams, her husband, and daughters Zora and Skylar are getting ready to move in, there are some complications with renovations, so the two families are going to share living space until the inauguration. Winnie and Ingrid know that previous families played pranks on each other, and decide to start these, even though they got along well with the other girls during the election. Pranks start to escalate, and before long, the girls aren't quite sure how to stop them. 
Strengths: Young readers will enjoy learning some history and interesting facts about the White House, and will be able to imagine what it would be like to live there. Amy Carter is just a little younger than I am, so when I was in middle school, this was certainly an interesting concept! The friendship between the girls is interesting, and I also liked the inclusion of the son of one of the reporters, Javi.  This was a fun, light read. Mendez is on a roll recently, with Random Acts of Kittens, On These Magic Shores, and Blizzard Besties.
Weaknesses: Being an adult hampered my enjoyment of this a bit. The pranks seemed mean spirited, and as a parent... I wanted to put people in time out! Readers in the target demographic will be fine with characters that I find a little unlikeable, and they will also enjoy the ferret more. (Ew. Can't even TYPE "ferret" without wrinkling my nose!)
What I really think: Definitely purchasing, and it makes a nice updated, slightly older version of DeVillers Liberty Porter: First Daughter series (2010). Perkins First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover is from 2008, so it's a good time for an update.

Brower, Kate Andersen. Exploring the White House: Inside America's Most Famous Home
September 1st 2020 by HarperCollins
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

The White House certainly captures the imagination in a way that other buildings in the US don't: not only is it central to our government, but it has seen hundreds of years of families and famous people. Not only that, but it employs a huge staff to make all of the activities happen. I remember being riveted by the 1979 mini-series Backstairs at the White House, mainly because some of the staff had been working for so long. This book is an excellent compilation of information not only about the building itself, but of the people who make it run, and the families of the presidents who live there. 

The best part of this book is the entirety of the history it includes. We find out what the building and staffing was like from the very beginning. Did you know that early on, the presidents had to provide their own staff? This meant that if they were slave owners, they brought their slaves! That was something I didn't know about. The different types of jobs necessary for keeping the White House running are described and explained, and the author (who has written several adult books about the White House) interviewed a good selection of people about what it was like to work there. 

I've seen books that include information about children and pets, as well as ghosts, and this does as well. However, it goes beyond those basics, discussing the Secret Service, first ladies, and how food services work. I don't know about you, but I think that in the interest of saving the country money, there shouldn't be an official pastry chef, and the president should get his baked goods for state dinners from Costco the way everyone else does! I'm also pretty sure that no one needs to fund any more national sets of china-- if the White House needs more dishes, pretty much everyone over the age of 50 has at least one service for 12 that we'd be more than happy to donate! 

The E ARC I read didn't have all of the pictures and maps that will appear in the final version, but there were a few. I loved seeing the vice presidential house, which I had never heard about!

My favorite part of this was actually some of the anecdotes about the families in the White House, and how the Bush girls reached out to the Obama girls, or how first ladies kept in contact with each other. There were also a lot of random fun facts that avid presidential buffs will want to file away. There's not a lot of interest in the White House in my library, but I'm half tempted to get this book to go along with my favorite primary source... A Tour of the White House with Mrs. John F. Kennedy by Perry Wolff (1962).

1 comment:

  1. Oh, yes, I remember Backstairs at the White House and how riveted I was myself. PS--Jacqueline Kennedy's televised White House tour is on You Tube. I will check and see if we have or will soon get the Kate Brower book. Thanks for letting me know!