Monday, February 15, 2021

Happy Presidents' Day, Kid Innovators

Bausum, Ann. Our Country's Presidents: A Complete Encyclopedia of the U.S. Presidency, 2020 Edition
January 12th 2021 by National Geographic Kids
Copy provided by Media Masters Publicity

First of all, I was impressed with the speed at which this was produced! This is an updated version of a book that goes back to 2001, but I'm sure that chapters about both candidates were prepared, and rushed into production as soon as it was prudent to do so! Also, I was shocked that Reagan was ONLY 69! I remember such a bit deal being made about his age, and he was 9 years younger than President Biden. 

The most important facet of this book is that it is NOT just a catalog of biographies. Throughout the book, pertinent historical information about key issues relating to the presidency, the presidents, or things that occurred during their tenure are covered. There is good information about the presidency and its evolution before Washington is even discussed. It was also useful that a chapter of "How to use this book" was included, since there are lots of timelines, thematic spreads, and reference aids included. 

Additional topics include the powers of the president, White House traditions, impeachment, kids in the White House, and a very interesting chart of Presidential Career Paths! There are occasional historical overviews as well, to put events into perspective. 

Since the is a National Geographic publication, there are many period illustrations and photographs, many in color, and the formatting is quite nice. You can tell it's a 2020 edition because of the use of teal borders, along with the 2021 Pantone color of the year, Illuminating. (A yellow which National Geographic has used for a long time!) The presidential portraits are always interesting to me, especially since men's suit styles have not changed significantly since Woodrow Wilson, who did rock the round, high shirt collar of his day. Was there ever a better painting than the Aaron Shickler one of John F. Kennedy? Very much in the style of its times, and somehow more moving than the rest. (The Kehinde Wiley portrait of Obama is also fantastic, but not in the book. Have to say that the Carter one was particularly well done. 

There are always students who are interested in presidential trivia, or who need a starting place for biography projects, and this is an excellent overview that goes beyond just listing the facts and data, and puts this information into perspective. If you are like me and haven't updated your corporate presidential biographies since the Clinton administration, it's time to invest in this updated book. 

Stevenson, Robin and Steinfeld, Allison. Kid Innovators (Kid Legends #7) 
February 16th 2021 by Quirk Books
Copy provided by the Publisher

These books are an excellent resource for students who aren't quite sure who to do for a biography project, or who want wider exposure to a variety of individuals in order to get ideas for further reading. If I had been allowed to buy more than the occasional Scholastic paperback as a child, I would have loved owning the entire set!

Divided into Tech Revolution, Sea, Skies, and Out Space, Cracking Codes and Saving Lives, and Trailblzers, this book showcases 16 different innovators, from the fairly common (the Wright Brothers, Steve Jobs, and Florence Nightingale) to the less well known (Reshma Suajani, William Kamkwamba, and Alvin Ailey). Each person is given 6-8 pages, much of which is spent on their childhoods, with less coverage given to their adult accomplishments and later lives. This information is accompanied by illustrations, and there are lists of further reading as well as an index at the back. 

These books make a perfect gift for a curious child or for the classroom library in an elementary school, and always remind me of my first book addiction, the Childhood of Famous Americans books  by Simon and Schuster, first published in the 1940s. Now I really want to hunt down people who have become somewhat obscure, like Eugene Fields! 

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