“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench
rollscresssandwichespottedmeatgingerbeerlemonadesodawater----'

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows


Friday, January 23, 2009

Our White House • Anthology

Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out
by the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance • September 2008 • Candlewick Press • All Ages
A creative tour-de-force that’s history in the making.
Story: The wonderful thing about Our White House is that it has more than just a single story to tell. In fact, over 100 award-wining authors and illustrators – people like M.T. Anderson, Kate DiCamillo, Brian Selznick, Peter Sis – donated their talents to create this incomparable collection of essays, personal accounts, historical fiction, and poetry about America’s history through the prism of the White House. You’re guaranteed to find a story you love within its pages.
Story behind the story: When the extraordinarily talented David Macaulay drafted the cover for Our White House, one of his sketches looked very much like the final cover – the White House looming large in the background, people on the lawn, the gate closed, and ladders pushed up on the fence. Nothing too subversive, right? But with the right amount of imagination and mischief, the reader can imagine those folks carrying ladders to the locked gate, climbing over the fence, and now standing on the front lawn of the White House. Oh no, they’re trespassing!!

Thankfully, McCauley opened the gate and the people are law-abiding visitors (not trespassers). It’s funny what a little thing like that can do. And even though us everyday folk aren’t exactly allowed on the lawn – except perhaps if there’s an Easter Egg roll – at least it captures the idea that The White House is Our House, too.

To listen to conversation with Our White House contributors, click here.
History resources, too.

★“Powerful…. Fascinating…. Challenging.” – School Library Journal, starred review
★“A blue-ribbon choice for family sharing during an election year.” – Publishers Weekly, starred review
★“Unique bits and pieces . . . create a browser’s dream as readers explore the nooks and crannies of American history.” – School Library Journal, starred review
FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent and reviews are in the works; please check back and click on the "comments" link below to read what your colleagues have to say.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

The short stories, poems, and other tidbits of our nation's history found in this anthology span a range of well known authors such as Walter Dean Myers, Charles Dickens, Kate DiCamillo, Jack Prelutsky, and Jerry Spinneli, amongst countless others. Together they have compiled works of literature to illustrate the periods of U.S. history, whose themes are supported by moving artwork. I'd rate this book a 2 and would recommend this book to teachers for use as a social studies/current events read aloud. Students might enjoy reading excerpts of this book to feed their appetite for America's past.

Reviewed by K.I. Elementary Teacher

Susan Appleton said...

I requested a copy of this book as soon as it was posted but have not received it yet. I am looking forward to getting a copy and sharing it with my students.

Natalie R., teacher said...

Lovers of American history rejoice! What a book! I love the variety of authors who contributed to this work. So many stories, poems, art, and true accounts can be found here. I have learned so much about Presidents and history reading this book. I would give this book a 5 because people of all ages can enjoy it and it would be an asset to any classroom library.

Natalie R.
Teacher
Philadelphia PA

Deborah Sloan said...

To Susan and anyone else who might have requested a copy but hasn't received it: I have left word with the publisher to check on the status of the mailing - and to see that copies are being sent to all who requested the book while copies were available (remember this is on a first-come, first-served basis). I know that this was an extremely popular title ... hope your request got in before their stack ran out. Thanks so much for your interest - and for letting me know. Will keep you posted as I learn more.

Susan Appleton said...

I guess I didn't get in quick enough to get a full copy of the book but they sent me a little sample of some of the selections found in the book. I loved it and wished I had the whole thing! If anyone got a full copy and you don't want it, please consider passing it on to me to use with my 5th-graders! I'd really appreciate it! The selections were interesting, some were funny, and most were accompanied with beautiful artwork! I just really enjoying reading the selections and I shared a couple with my students who asked me if we could get the whole book! Considering we are facing budget cuts in our division this year, I don't see us being able to afford the $38 to get it, but I put the sample copy out on the bookshelf and it is being gobbled up by my kids. Great book and I would definitely rate it a 5!

Y. Denise Payne said...

This book is hard to put down. I have begun our 4 grade gov./civics study and have found a story to go along with almost everyone of the topics. I have made a suggestion to my favorite library friends to add this to their collections. Getting authors/ illustrators of this caliber in one collection is a great treat. Rated a 5 out of 5!

Tegan Sexton said...

Rating - 5!!!!!!
Wow! I am completely overwhelmed by the astounding quality of this book! The stories are incredible - the artwork is beautiful. This is a must have for libraries, classroom teachers, it's even a great coffee table book! My own children have enjoyed looking through it all. I can imagine it being a valuable reference and teaching tool throughout my career.
Tegan Sexton
4th Grade Teacher
Magnolia Park Elementary
Ocean Springs, MS

Kdeeb, Sarasota FL said...

AWESOME..... This book has a lot of information that any teacher can use in the classroom. 2nd grade students enjoyed listening to a read aloud from "Our White House Anthology"....
rate this book 4
Kdeeb, Sarasota FL

Tricia said...

At long last my copy of Our White House finally arrived. I've had a chance to try it out in a few classrooms. There are many things about this book I love, but I don't think it has tremendous appeal at the elementary level. I see it fitting best in grades 5-8, with a only a few pieces appropriate at the lower grades. A compilation of assorted anecdotes, biographies, letters, poems and more, teachers will need to pick and choose the pieces that fit with their topics of study.

This is not a book that lends itself to a cover-to-cover reading, but rather is meant to enjoyed in small bits. Young children will find The White House Cow (p. 60), Hands (p. 132), Good Nights (p. 148), The Presidential Pet (p. 166), White House Souvenir (p. 173), and I Live in the White House (p. 198) of interest. Middle students will be interested in the “stories” that liven up this history of the White House and its inhabitants.

Most of the pieces can be used for short read alouds. Don Brown's piece on Dolley Madison makes for a good introduction to his picture book biography Dolley Madison Saves George Washington.

This is a beautiful book that will make a terrific reference source for teachers.

Tricia Stohr-Hunt
Teacher Educator
Richmond, VA

Pat K. said...

Rating - 5, Strongly recommend

What a picnic this book is – a definite 5! The history of the White House and it’s many families told through the words of numerous authors and through the pictures of many illustrators. History on every page – essays, historical fiction, journal entries, poetry – the words bring the story of the people who lived in this grand house alive. It is a must for any school library, history and language arts teachers. Those who teach American History and the Presidency will devour it. Language Arts teachers will enjoy the variety of genres to share with their students. It is definitely geared for upper elementary and middle school.

Pat Kramer
Third Grade Teacher
Palm Harbor, FL

dmuldawer said...

I got a sample book and, in a way, found this more frustrating than if I hadn't received the book at all. Just as I was getting into each story, it would abruptly end, leaving me wondering what happened.

The pictures are lovely and I enjoyed the depth and breadth of styles. This book goes beyond the White House to explore the history of America.

Picnic Basket Rating: 3, but I imagine it might be a 5 if I could read the whole thing. There were so many loose ends and such a lack of continuity in the shortened format that it left me feeling cheated.

Anonymous said...

This book is a 5!!! It is a wonderful where you can pick and choose what stories are best suited for your class. I teach Pre-Kindergarten and received the book just in time for our unit on Presidents. The stories in the book are short enough that it holds the student's attention and the illustrations are wonderful! Thank you so much for giving me the chance to share this book with my class!

Reviewed by S.T. Pre-K Teacher

Tracy Edward Wymer said...

This compilation of White House stories, anecdotes, and poems is unmatched by all other anthologies. Written and illustrated by a who's-who of the children's writers/artists world, it serves as an introduction, study, and reference guide to young readers concerning all things White House. From Presidents and their dogs to vibrant depictions of White House events (exaggerated effectively), this book will go down as one of the most esteemed anthological works ever.

5 out of 5, no question!

Anonymous said...

Our White House-Looking In, Looking Out

I give this book a 5 rating as I highly recommend this book for elementary classrooms and libraries. This is perfect supplemental for social studies/history lessons or just a fun independent read. Great variety of contribuing authors. Great illustrations and love the accompanying poster!

Tasses said...

I heard quite a bit of buzz about Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out last fall, but forgot about it until I was offered a sneak peak. And although I was only given a tiny taste, it was enough to know that the real McCoy must be a fantastic book.

Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out is a compilation of stories, poems, essays, illustrations, cartoons and historical tidbits that are engaging and informative (at least the one's I've previewed). With 108 of children's literature authors and illustrators, the book forms a who’s-who for Kiddie Lit. 101 and additionally includes writings from various historical statesmen.

Compiled by the National Children's Book and Literary Alliance and eight years in the making, Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out is a must for libraries and social studies classrooms. I’ve not seen anything quite so captivating in a long time.

You can read the whole review, with links, on www.readingrumpus.com on Saturday March 7th.

5/5 rating
Cheryl
M.S. Reading
Florida

Anonymous said...

The illustrations are vibrant, as are the imagined stories, the poems, and the selected speeches and accounts, which make the book interesting enough to read from front to back and hard to put down. The stories and accounts have the potential to influence positive attitudes toward the priority of family and working hard to see aspirations fulfilled: memoirs from different actual historical figures which highlight these attitudes are especially encouraging. The memoirs also give insight into figures’ inner lives, and prompt interest to read more from outside of the book. Another enjoyable feature is the companion Web site, which provides more notes on sources of information and links to many other sites that help in soothing curiosities the book provokes.

As an English language arts graduate and aspiring teacher, I enjoy the inclusion of a copy of an authentic historical document that exposes the reader to older English type face.

For children still in the formative stage of life, I don’t think the instances (there are not many) of characters drinking alcohol, getting drunk, or getting others drunk appropriate, no matter how true they may have been, as I believe those instances could act as catalysts for personal habits or encourage ones already established in some children’s families; I would use discretion or ad lib if I used this book in a diverse classroom setting.

Overall, I give this book a Picnic Basket rating of 4. I could definitely plan a picnic around it, especially if it were to be on the White House lawn.

Sarah Oyerinde
Marion, Indiana

Anonymous said...

Sandra Says
This was a great book. My students were impressed that some of their favoite authors contributed to the writing of this book. This was a great way to get students interested in history. I rate it a 5, since I have not been able to keep it on my shelf.

Kathy said...

Since I did not receive the entire book, it was hard to look at the book as a whole. By looking at the table of contents, it looks like many well know children's authors have contributed to the book. The pictures included in my shortened version were fantastic, especially the one of Teddy Roosevelt and his kids. The short stories could be used as read-a-louds in any elementary classroom. My students were disappointed that they could not see the complete book and gave it a 2 rating. I think it would have been much higher if we would have seen it in its entirity.

Anonymous said...

Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out
Rating: 5 This book has great eye appeal. From the moment I opened the box, I wanted to get right into it...so many great authors contributed, the illustrations, the insight into presidents's lives, the imagined conversations, the poetry. There seems to be something for everyone to love!
As a fourth grade teacher, I've rerad pieces aloud to my class. It can be used during social studies, apparently. I can use it during reading to develop knowledge of the genres of writing. My students can use parts during writing--when we focus on writing dialog or poetry or any other genre. We are also learning that all books do not need to be read from cover to cover. We can skip around and focus on our needs and wants.
Several of my students wish I had 20 copies of this book so that each group could read one selection and then share what each has read--so that they can decide which selection to read next. In this way, they can develop their skills of evaluation and making judgments in a real life setting. Additionally, I learned a thing or two about the history of those who lived in the White House. This book breaths life into Social Studies content for those who find their textbooks a bit dry.

Melissa said...

This book is a must for any classroom, no matter what grade! The art work is beautiful, the stories engaging. I love the wide variety of authors and genres. I can pick and choose what I want to read and when. I would rate this book a 5.

Anonymous said...

This book was wonderful! Each piece shared tibits of unknown history; each drawing brought the president's actions to life. The mix of authors and illustrators contributing to this story helped turn this into a treasured masterpiece. A great read aloud for the elementary student who is learning about our nation's history. 4 out of 5!

debnance said...

Did all my favorite authors and illustrators contribute to this book? A look through the table of contents seems to say yes. A big, big book (it will apparently be more than 242 pages) filled with fun stories all connected loosely to the setting of the White House. The stories I read in this sampler were gentle, scary, sad, and humorous.

The illustrations are clever and sweet, silly and patriotic. I only had a taste of the book here in this prepublication sampler but I will seek out the full version; thirty-five dollars is a hunk of change for a book, even a lovely one like this one appears to be.

4

Debbie Nance, Librarian

The Black Family said...

I received only a small excerpt from this book, but from what I saw, this would be an excellent addition to a classroom library for individual reading time, as well as a good read aloud when studying American history. The illustrations were my favorite. They were vibrant and kept my attention.

Even though this book was written by many different authors, the book is well categorized to tie all the different works together.

I give this book a 4 out of 5, just because I haven't seen the entire thing!

Lindsey B.
Title I Teacher
Utah

Anonymous said...

Book Title: Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out

Rating: 5 This book has great eye appeal. From the moment I opened the box, I wanted to get right into it...so many great authors contributed, the illustrations, the insight into presidents's lives, the imagined conversations, the poetry. There seems to be something for everyone to love!
As a fourth grade teacher, I've rerad pieces aloud to my class. It can be used during social studies, apparently. I can use it during reading to develop knowledge of the genres of writing. My students can use parts during writing--when we focus on writing dialog or poetry or any other genre. We are also learning that all books do not need to be read from cover to cover. We can skip around and focus on our needs and wants.
Several of my students wish I had 20 copies of this book so that each group could read one selection and then share what each has read--so that they can decide which selection to read next. In this way, they can develop their skills of evaluation and making judgments in a real life setting. Additionally, I learned a thing or two about the history of those who lived in the White House. This book breaths life into Social Studies content for those who find their textbooks a bit dry.


L. Santella, Teacher
L. Santella

thereadingzone said...

I just received this about 2 weeks ago.

I love this! And my students really love it. Full of short stories, poems, drawings, and trivia, this anthology of US history centers around the White House. I learned something new on every page! And my students are obsessed with the White House pets lit.

This is a phenomenal book that every history and language arts teacher should own, regardless of grade level!

Sarah, 6th grade teacher

Deb M said...

You can help nurture political junkies with this terrific book!

I have shared this book with several groups from pre-schoolers to adults and all have found aspects to gravitate to. The book is broken down into units that cluster similar themes together as well as providing chronological sections. I loved the variety of authors included and vivid artwork.I'd definately give this book a 5!!!

Anonymous said...

I am a K-4 librarian and I chose to read and review this book for those students - you know who they are - who always are reading about Presidents or the White House. I don't think a student would pick this up without hearing a booktalk, but especially in this election year, "Our White House" would be an interesting read
for many of my students, late grade 3 and up.

It is a browsing book - I couldn't just sit down and read the whole thing in one sitting, but I enjoyed learning about new facets of our nation's history. I can see using this book when comparing or studying illustrators (Eric Carle's page is spectacular), and then hope that a student will become interested in the text too!

I would rate this book a "4" - Recommend Without Reservation.
Susan E
Hillside School
Mt. Laurel, New Jersey

A. Hunt said...

WOW! I am absolutely in love with this historical anthology, "Our White House: Looking In Looking Out". "My Room" by Lynda Johnson Robb is one of favorite short stories and I truly can visualize being in her position and wishing for a romantic history to her room in the White House.

This book will be a definite resource for teaching how expository writing can be entertaining and intriguing. Plus show there is other types of expository writing besides writing for the state test.

Definite must for the picnic basket - 6!

A. Hunt
Middle School Language Arts
Fort Walton Beach, FL