Monday, April 21, 2008

Nonfiction Monday: Dolley Madison Saves George Washington

Dolley Madison Saves George Washington
By Don Brown
Houghton Mifflin, 2007

I love picture book biographies. I especially love picture book biographies that don’t follow the traditional biography route. In other words, they don’t tell about the person from birth to death, but rather pick one or two really interesting moments of that person’s life and share that in a picture book. Not that I have anything against the traditional biography. It is one of my favorite genres, but I think picture book biographies make kids really think. They “explode a moment” in Barry Lane’s terms.

This book is no exception. The title alone makes the reader wonder how Dolley Madison, a first lady, save our first president. Why, she saved his portrait of course! Don Brown tells about what most people think of when they hear Dolley Madison’s name: “Everybody talked about Dolley Madison. They talked about her charm and grace. They talked about her beauty, her stunning gowns, and her delightful banquets.” (1). But Don Brown shows what a strong lady Dolley Madison was.

During the War of 1812, when the British were burning Washington, Dolley Madison wasn’t the first person to leave. Instead she stayed behind and ordered that the portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart be saved. The portrait and the historical significance are pointed out in the text. So George Washington WAS saved by Mrs. Madison and returned to the White House years later, where it still hangs.

If you are a history buff, or just love a good picture book biography, you’ll love this book.

1 comment:

Karen said...

This book sounds great! Plus, I'm always on the hunt for good mentor texts for literary nonfiction. I'll have to check this one out -- it sounds like it just might fit the bill!
Thanks for the review!