Friday, April 27, 2007

The Buck Stops Here


We've always been big fans of the Provensens. Martin and Alice Provensen authored and illustrated so many of our early childhood favorites including The Year at Maple Hill Farm, Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm, and A Book of Seasons. The two also illustrated The Color Kittens by Margaret Wise Brown as well as the original Fuzzy Duckling. Their folksy artistic style is rich in character and their humor and insight appeals as much to parents as to children.

I had always known about the Provensen's picture books for older children, but hadn't started reading them until now. It seems Simeon is the perfect age for beginning an appreciation of The Buck Stops Here, and he's taken to it like a duck to water.

This book defies catagorization in more ways than one. It is not for the very young, as many references are lost on children. It is not for the older crowd because of the simplicity of style and whimsy of rhymes. It isn't a History book in the sense that there is not much text or explanation of historical references. And if it is an art book, the subject is strange and the style plain.

So what is it exactly? It is all of these things together and none of them alone. The Buck Stops Here is a collection of artistic renditions and catchy rhymes for young and old about the first 41 presidents of the United States. The large, square watercolor portrait of each president is decorated with the ideas, events, and dilemmas that shaped each presidency, and thus the history of these fifty United States. Rhymes such as, "Reagan, Forty, reached his goal, Acting out his favorite role," and "Thomas Jefferson, Number three, Rigged the sale of the century" have a way of staying with a person. I have since read reviews online of this book and have not been surprised to read about grown men remembering the order of the presidents and key points of American history by turning the pages of this book over in their imaginations.

We've only just begun to enjoy this work, but I see it is has become a fast favorite as I just heard Simeon repeating, "Teddy Roosevelt, Twenty-six, Whisper softly, wave big sticks."

11 comments:

Jennifer said...

That sounds like a great way to spark interest - and also just plaing fun.

Paula in MN said...

We have, use, and love this book also!

Ambrose said...

Please, I have to know. What is Bill Clinton's rhyme?

Suzanne Temple said...

ambrose, this book was published before clinton. It ends with George Sr. "And now George Bush is Forty-one. Good luck to him and all to come."

Julie said...

My 8 year old son is very interested in the presidents too! I think I may have this book buried somewhere in the endless pile of teacher tubs in the garage...I'll have to check when I get the chance.

Elise said...

This looks fantastic! I'm so glad you reviewed it, as I've glimpsed it here and there, but wasn't sure how I felt about purchasing it.
As you said, it's all of those things together that makes it appealing - I think my almost 8-year-old would love it and thrive on it.
Thanks!

Kristen Laurence said...

It looks very interesting. Now I need a notebook to start tracking titles for future use.

Suzanne Temple said...

Ambrose, I see now that there is an updated edition. That is not the edition I own. I don't know who updated it or wrote the rhyme fror Clinton, but I would like to know it, too.

Kristen, better yet, keep a wish list at Amazon.

Cheryl said...

I've never seen this book. Thanks for posting about it.

Kimberlee said...

Yes, Suzanne - thanks for posting. I've never seen it either, but I've gone and ordered one already. My 14 yo son knew all the presidents when he was four, will be very amused.

Jane Ramsey said...

Looks like a wonderful book! I can't wait to check it out (after we finish reading the 70 books I bought at the book sale last week!)
:-)