When it’s served on a silver tray to the first reigning British monarchs to ever set foot on American soil!
Yes, that’s precisely what happened when King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited the United States in June 1939.
To celebrate this momentous occasion, Eleanor Roosevelt decided to host an all-American picnic at Top Cottage, their beautiful countryside retreat overlooking the Hudson River Valley in Hyde Park, New York.
In Hot Dog!: Eleanor Roosevelt Throws a Picnic (Sleeping Bear Press, 2014), Leslie Kimmelman recounts how the indefatigable First Lady planned the picnic and why she felt it was important for both our countries. With Europe on the brink of war and the U.S. in the throes of the Great Depression, this would be a good chance for Americans to set aside their cares for awhile to welcome these special guests. Such a personal gesture of friendship would also allow Americans to see a more human, accessible side to the Royals.
Since moving to Virginia, I’ve become quite the Presidential buff. It’s easy to do since eight Presidents were born here, and I bump into fascinating history wherever I turn.
That’s why I get excited whenever a new children’s book comes out profiling a single President, or, as in the case of Marilyn Singer’s fabulous new poetry collection, all43 of them.
In Rutherford B., Who Was He?, Marilyn introduces our fearless leaders in chronological order via succinct, thought-provoking poems, blending critical facts, historical references and fascinating human interest tidbits.
All but eight (grouped together for spirited discourse) are featured in single poems. With just a few masterful strokes, she highlights the subject’s claim to fame and illuminates character and personality, so we can better understand the why’s and wherefore’s. She does not shy away from foibles, failings, controversy or scandal, and I love the sense of continuity from one administration to the next, giving us a broad sweep of Presidential history from Washington to Obama.
Paired with John Hendrix’s witty, exuberant caricatures and crackerjack hand-drawn typography, these verses pulse with verve and vigor — a showcase of poetic forms (a Nixon reverso!) with clever, innovative rhymes that truly bring our Presidents to life.