NONFICTION

If You Want a Friend in Washington: Wacky, Wild & Wonderful Presidential Pets

Schwartz & Wade/Random/. Jul. 2020. 44p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593122693.
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K-Gr 3–This funny and informative book about the pets of U.S. presidents begins with a famous quote attributed to President Truman: “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” Of all the U.S. presidents, only James K. Polk, Andrew Johnson, and Donald Trump did not have pets, while Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, and John F. Kennedy had some of the most unusual and largest menageries. Rather than moving from president to president and listing the pets each owned, the book organizes the pets into categories, with a cute illustration and the name of the creature and the presidential surname. A humorous spread shows all the dogs owned by the presidents, with the largest number of dogs owned by George Washington. Plenty of presidents have had dogs, cats, horses, and birds, but many also had farm animals (including goats, sheep, and chickens) and more exotic creatures (bear cubs, alligators, a wallaby, and a pygmy hippo). The final pages list all the presidents in order with the names of their pets, and end pages include vintage photographs.
VERDICT Although the ending is a bit abrupt, this story contains fascinating facts with charming illustrations—perfect for conveying historical tidbits to young children.

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