Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ghosts of the White House

I love stumbling across the perfect book in the library. Cheryl Harness' Ghosts of the White House was actually on display because of the Presidential election, but it fits the Halloween season perfectly as well.

This children's nonfiction book relates information about the Presidents in an interesting, if slightly confusing, format. Sara, the narrator, is a student at George Washington Elementary School, whose class tours the White House. She's fascinated by the stories of the residents, and George Washington reaches out from his portrait when Sara says, "I wish - ". The ghost of Washington guides her through various rooms of the White House, as each of the Presidential ghosts shows up in appropriate rooms. They are grouped into rooms, but most young people will find it slightly confusing to meet them out of order. For instance, the President's Bedroom holds the ghosts of the men who died there. The China Room holds Millard Fillmore and Richard Nixon, men who dealt with the Far East.

The pages and illustrations in this book are quite busy, but the short facts and bubble comments are very interesting, as each man tells about his life. The book does include a section for the living Presidents, although two of them, Reagan and Ford, have died since the book was published.

As a history of the Presidency, the book is a little confusing. As a history of the White House, and a ghostly history, it's a refreshing way of looking at the Presidential home.

Ghosts of the White House by Cheryl Harness. Aladdin Paperbacks, reprinted 2002. ISBN 9780689848926 (paperback), 48p.

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