Presidential Misadventures: Poems That Poke Fun at the Man in Charge

illus. by Dan E. Burr. 48p. appendix. further reading. websites. Roaring Brook. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781596439801.
Gr 3–6—This petite treat cracks open history via a little light mockery in the form of 43 clerihews, one for each president of the United States. The book opens with an explanation of the form's origin and structure (the clerihew is a four-line poem with an AABB rhyming scheme that pokes fun at its famous subject, who is introduced in the first line). Readers will be engaged by the jokes and impelled to flip to the appendix to learn more. An irreverent tone runs through these selections. One poem describes Thomas Jefferson, who "went to town to buy bananas/and came home with Louisiana," while the accompanying illustration depicts him carrying a large outline of the state with a $15,000,000 price tag. The book includes other important bits of history such as the Monroe Doctrine and the purchase of Alaska. The research is sound, with reference sources cited, and cartoonist Burr's large-headed, pen-and-ink caricatures are humorous. Some of the textual and visual references will be lost on kids (such as the drawing of Richard Nixon being cued by the cameraman to read a script card that says, "I am not a crook."). However, the book will spark the inquisitive seeker in every reader and is a quick launch into research.
VERDICT A fun and informative addition to poetry collections.

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