Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Of Presidents and Dogs


Maybe you have heard that the OBamas got a dog? Bo has been a resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for less than a month and he is already the subject of two books, Bo, America's Commander in Leashand Bo Obama: First Dog of the United States of America. This got me thinking about the canine/president relationship and I uncovered a couple of interesting books along that vein.

First up is First Dog Fala by Elizabeth Van Steenwyk. Fala was Franklin D. Roosevelt's Scottish terrier and constant companion. Children will learn that FDR was president during World War II and the events of Pearl Harbor and D-Day, that he had polio, that he was the only president to serve three terms and that Fala's likeness sits beside FDR's memorial statue. Includes cute Fala anecdotes and is nicely illustrated.

Ages 4-8
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The other book tells the true story of a pre-president's kindness. George Washington and the General's Dog (Step-Into-Reading, Step 3) by Frank Murphy, takes place during the Revolutionary War. After a battle (Germantown) the colonials find a dog and discover that the name inscribed on its collar is non-other than William Howe (the British General!...Washington's nemesis!) Even though the officers think they should keep the dog out of spite, George Washington makes no bones about returning the dog to it's master. He writes Howe a note to that effect (this is really cool - a copy of the actual note is in the back of the book!), arrangements are made, and the dog is reunited with it's rightful owner. After that, word gets out back in England and British hearts are softened by the kindness of George Washington. The book incorporates interesting facts I had never considered. For example, it was not uncommon for soldiers to take their dogs with them as they could track, help hunt and guard against wild animals. Great book.

Ages 4-8
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