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Revolving Bookstand: Our White House, Looking In, Looking Out



Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out, created by 108 renowned authors and illustrators and The National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance, introduction by David McCullough, Candlewick Press, 241 pages, 2008; softcover 2010.


Brief Description

"Building on the logical links between literacy, historical literacy, and civic engagement, the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance created Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out to encourage young people to read more about America's rich history and culture; to think more about America's future; to talk more about our nation's leadership; and to act on their own beliefs and convictions, ensuring this great democratic experiment will survive and thrive.

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough introduces this creative tour de force, in which 108 renowned authors and illustrators have donated their poetry, prose, and art to help advance the cause of young people's literacy and historical literacy. The illustrations, essays, short stories, presidential letters, personal reflections, and historical accounts in Our White House inform and entertain, offering a window on more than 200 years of American history."

About the Authors

Contributors include: David McCullough, Jerry Spinelli, Patricia McLaughlin, Jane Yolen, Kate DiCamillo, Milton Meltzer, Walter Dean Myers, Meg Cabot, Richard Peck, Matt Phelan, Steven Kellogg, David Small, Brian Selznik, Jack Prelutsky, Linda Johnson Robb, and even Charles Dickens.

The National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance is a not-for-profit literacy organization founded in 1997 by Mary Brigid Barrett and composed of award-winning children's authors and illustrators, including M. T. Anderson, Natalie Babbitt, Susan Cooper, Nikki Grimes, Steven Kellogg, David Macaulay, Patricia MacLachlan, Gregory Maguire, Patricia and Fredrick McKissack, Linda Sue Park, and Katherine Paterson. For more information about the NCBLA's goals and activities, visit

Official Web Site

Reviews Review

Our White House: Looking in, Looking Out is an astounding collection featuring more than 100 award-winning children's book authors and illustrators. It is much more than a history about the home and office of U.S. presidents and their families. Commissioned by the National Children's Book and Literary Alliance, this stunning picture book transcends the bounds of educational textbook, or any particular genre, for that matter. It includes essays by historians and well-known nonfiction writers (like David McCullough), fictional stories, poetry (including a memorable poem about Lincoln and a butterfly by Kate DiCamillo), imagined letters to the president, texts of actual speeches, memoir (including an essay by Linda Johnson Robb about the eerie history of a White House room where she once stayed), transcripts of TV interviews, and clever games such as a "Best in Show" presidential pet contest and a "Who's in the House?" presidential board game. Among the book's most captivating features are the "illustration essays" which feature stories or ideas rendered completely through pictures. Notable examples include David Small's sketch journal "Backstairs at the White House,"depicting all the people who work in the house and keep it running, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "Four Freedoms" speech illustrated by Calef Brown, Peter Sis, Ed Young, and Stephen Alcorn.

Our White House will likely be a favorite of children--and adults-who love presidential trivia, historical facts, and old stories. Children who weren't White House buffs already will surely be drawn into this colorful, fun history of an iconic building that simultaneously tells the story of the United States. (Ages 9 to 12) --Heidi Broadhead

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 3-€“8&—More than 100 authors and illustrators contributed to this wide-ranging collection of short pieces about the First Family residence. Most participants are creators of books for youth, along with a sprinkling of other figures, such as historian David McCullough, and actual White House occupants. Arranged in general chronological order, the chapters are delightfully varied in form, tone, and subject matter. They include straightforward history, brief essays, personal narratives, and even fantasy, as in Meg Cabot's lighthearted time-travel story. The handsome layout and excellent-quality illustrations provide strong appeal. The pairing of words and art is often inspired, as in Maybelle Mayer's paper doll cutouts from 1938 that accompany Nancy Willard's poem about White House dresses. There are powerful visual moments as well, such as the dazzling series of spreads featuring visual interpretations of Roosevelt's "Four Freedoms," each by a different artist. Many segments convey personal details that humanize the presidential families, such as Virginia Euwer Wolff's introduction to the musical sophistication of the Tafts and Anita Silvey's look at Jackie Kennedy's literary career. Humor plays a role too, as in Steven Kellogg's artistic rendering of an imagined "Best in Show" contest among White House pets. Some readers will progress straight through from Jane Yolen's imagined conversation between John and Abigail Adams to the first National Book Festival in 2001, while others may browse and jump about; either way, this entertaining introduction to the White House is full of fascinating information, challenging ideas, and appealing artwork.&—Steven Engelfried, Multnomah County Library, OR. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The White House is the focus of this handsome, large-format compendium of writings, both factual and fictional, and illustrations. The book opens with historian David McCullough's introduction to the anthology and Gregory Maguire's invitation to look into the White House and out from it at the world. Poems and essays, stories and memoirs&—all combine to create a mosaic of impressions of the house's residents and visitors and of the important events that occurred there. The arrangement of entries is chronological. Varied in tone, viewpoint, and purpose, the writings create a sense of many voices, young and old, and many visions. The often-spectacular artwork, beautifully reproduced on glossy paper, is particularly striking. With contributions from more than 100 notable contemporary children's writers and illustrators as well as former presidents, their family members, and others who wrote firsthand accounts of their experiences, this is a unique resource that will intrigue children about their country's history. Grades 5-8. --Carolyn Phelan

Table of Contents (Excerpt)

Introduction / by David McCullough
Looking in, looking out / by Gregory Maguire
Part I:  From the foundation up / illustration by Bagram Ibatoulline
The White House first residents / by Jane Yolen ; illustrated by Petra Mathers
Testimony of Padraig Tomás ó 'Deoráin: 1801 / imagined and illustrated by Mary Brigid Barrett
Slaves helped build the White House! / by Walter Dean Myers
Thomas Jefferson, 1743-1826 / by Milton Meltzer
White House colonial kitchen gardens / by Stephanie Loer ; illustrated by S.D. Schindler
Jefferson's monstrous bones / by Barbara Kerley -- Bones on the floor / illustrated by Brian Selznick
An unusual guest / by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
The capital city in 1800 / illustrated by Mike Reagan

Related Items in Our Collection

One of Jefferson's fossils: Upper Jawbone of Mastodon (Mammut americanum)


David McCullough is a former trustee of Monticello (Thomas Jefferson Foundation ) and was a fellow at its Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferon Studies (ICJS) in 1995.

Google Books Link

Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out

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