Thanks to Alyson Beecher's Non-Fiction Picture Book Challenge at Kidlit Frenzy, those who link up share fabulous non-fiction picture books. I am grateful for all that I've learned through reading non-fiction picture books.
I looked for this at my library because I saw reviews a long while ago, but I never read it. And it seems to be a good time to see what a picture book can tell us about being President of the United States. George Washington set the bar high!
Big George: How A Shy Boy Became President Washington - Anne Rockwell and Matt Phelan
Here's what I learned about President Washington's traits that feel right for being President:
He was a learner: When George was eleven his father died, and he went to live at his half-brother Lawrence's place, Mount Vernon. There he spent time reading in Mt. Vernon's large library and was especially drawn to a Roman farmer who put down his plow because he was needed as a leader. George thought it was admirable that this man, Cinncinnatus, gave up what he loved in order to serve his country. George would remember this later.
He also was a learner in sports, was an avid horseman, swordsman and fencer. He was taught all the things a Virginia gentleman was supposed to know by Lawrence. He learned a bit from traveling with Lawrence, too.
He followed his loyalties when he thought it was right:
First he fought for the King, but argued with the general about the silly way that the British fought, as you know, in lines, with music, announcing their arrival. They were crushed by the French and Native Americans at Fort Duquesne, and Washington fought well, but was not wounded. He would remember the harshness of battle.
He was again called, this time to lead the rebel army against his king. It was a hard decision, but he fought on the side he believed was right.
He fought with his army:
No matter the sacrifice, Washington did all that his soldiers did, fought and starved and ached from cold with them. When people saw that, his armies grew. He was inspiring them by his actions, not his words.
He loved his home:
No matter how much he was away, he always returned home to what he loved, Mount Vernon and his family.
He again went to serve, this time as the first President. Although there were huge conflicts among the different colonies, Washington worked tirelessly to make the country strengthen, to make it ONE! According to the story: "He proved to be as good a leader in peace as in war."
Matt Phelan's illustrations are lovely, filling the pages with action and history too. The double-page spread of Washington in his first battle is marvelous. The page from the Valley Forge winter is heart-breaking.