You'd be hard pressed to find anyone in America whose attention isn't firmly fixed on the White House this year. And despite how you may feel about its residents at any given time, you have to admit: you wouldn't mind being a fly on the Oval Office wall during a few choice moments in its history. Now, a spectacular anthology allows young readers a privileged glimpse inside the president's home. Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out is a glorious and multifaceted collection that showcases the talents of more than 100 acclaimed authors and illustrators. Eight years in the making, as a special project of the National Children's Book and Literary Alliance, the arrival of Our White House is truly a major event in children's publishing. The book is a treasury of essays, personal reflections, letters, poems, speeches and comics, demonstrating that the most celebrated house in America is simply bursting with stories. The first part of the book includes a conversation, imagined by author Jane Yolen, between the White House's first residents, John and Abigail Adams. Later, Kate DiCamillo delivers a stunning poem about Abraham Lincoln's premonitions of his own death. Jerry Spinelli offers memories of a family trip to Washington, D.C., in the summer of 1950 and a "Backstairs at the White House" sketch journal by David Small rounds out the display. The list of notable and prize - winning contributors reads like a who's - who of children's literature - there's Natalie Babbitt, Katherine Paterson, Jon Scieszka, David Macaulay and Brian Selznick, to name just a few - and the surprising presentations will appeal to both ready and reluctant readers. Which is why a collection like this one is such a welcome addition to the bookshelf - it's a poignant reminder that the story of the White House is the story of each of us.
Ellen Trachtenberg lived six blocks from the White House during the Reagan presidency.