The House That George Built
Suzanne Slade, author
Suzanne Slade is the author of more than ninety books for children, including Climbing Lincoln’s Steps, a Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, and Susan B. Anthony: Fighter for Freedom and Equality, an Amelia Bloomer recommended title. Suzanne lives near Chicago, Illinois.
Read more about Suzanne.
Rebecca Bond, illustrator
Rebecca Bond is the author and illustrator of several picture books, including In the Belly of an Ox, an ALA Notable Children’s Book. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts.
Read more about Rebecca.
- A Junior Library Guild Selection
- Bank Street's Best Children's Books of the Year
A simple, well-constructed overview takes a close look at how the magnificent house at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. was built on an empty piece of land with a view of the Potomac.
It was George Washington who conceived of a superb residence for the American President and directed its development over the 11 years it took to build, including surveying, vetting the design and administering the construction from his presidential office to bring the project in on schedule. Slade's clear description of the steps in the building process accompanies Bond's amiable edge-to-edge detailed watercolor depictions of the construction site and its busy progress. A cumulative rhyme--"the house that George built"--accompanies the compact, informative text and serves as a place holder and mnemonic to convey the stages of this impressive undertaking. A charming illustration of John and Abigail Adams, standing at last in a great hall not entirely swept of workmen's tools and stray nails, shows the first of the residents who would leave their mark on this principle residence of democracy. The author's note and list of some of the improvements made by those in residence over the years (tennis courts for Theodore Roosevelt; a vegetable garden for the Obamas) add to a fascinating first history of the White House.
Sure to see--and worthy of--plenty of use, and not just in election years. (author's list of sources and suggested resources to learn more).
Slade (Climbing Lincoln's Steps) delivers a historical riff on "The House That Jack Built" with this tale of how George Washington oversaw the construction of what would come to be called the White House: "This is the lot,/ that grand, scenic spot,/ for the President's House that George built." On most of the right-hand pages, the cumulative verse grows longer, while prose sections at left offer facts about materials, workers, and the house's overall progress as it moves from blueprint to bricks-and-mortar reality; for instance, when the stone supply fell short, "George changed the house plan from three stories to two." In airy watercolor-and-ink illustrations, Bond (In the Belly of an Ox) depicts the stages of construction and captures details of the era's building methods and styles of dress; John and Abigail Adams, the building's first residents, are shown looking around nervously upon moving in ("the plaster walls were still wet, and the winding staircase had only a few steps"). A foreword, author's note, and additional White House facts supply even more details and context to this focused and well-executed project.
School Library Journal
Following the framework of "This Is the House That Jack Built," this cumulative story describes how George Washington chose the design for what would become the White House and supervised its construction. Rhyming verses, interspersed with background paragraphs to fill out the narrative, describe how Washington found the site and held a contest to get design submissions. African American and white surveyors and laborers are included in the pictures. The illustrations, rendered in watercolor and ink, are large scale, like the house. The artwork spills off the spreads, the images too big to be contained. The perspective shifts to provide varying views of the work in progress. Earth tones complement the building theme, suggesting dirt, wood, and grass. A section at the back of the book describes the many changes made to the White House over the years, and an author's note provides more historical detail. Although there are many books for young readers about George Washington, this appealing title is unique in its focus.
ISBN: 978-1-60734-938-9 EPUB
ISBN: 978-1-60734-450-6 PDF
Page count: 32
7 x 9