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If the Walls Could Talk: Family Life at the White House

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In case you've ever wondered, the walls at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue have eyes and ears -- and, what's more, they don't miss a thing. Now, listen up because the walls have a thing or two to tell you! During President John Tyler's presidency, the White House was such a mess that it was called the "Public Shabby House." President William Howard Taft was so large that he had In case you've ever wondered, the walls at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue have eyes and ears -- and, what's more, they don't miss a thing. Now, listen up because the walls have a thing or two to tell you! During President John Tyler's presidency, the White House was such a mess that it was called the "Public Shabby House." President William Howard Taft was so large that he had to have a jumbo-size bathtub installed -- one big enough for four people. President Andrew Jackson's "open door" policy at the White House resulted in 20,000 people showing up for his inauguration party. (The new president escaped to the quiet of a nearby hotel!) President Abraham Lincoln didn't mind at all that his younger sons, Tad and Willie, kept pet goats in their White House bedrooms. Children all across the country sent in their own money to build an indoor swimming pool for wheelchair-bound President Franklin D. Roosevelt so that he could exercise. President Harry S. Truman knew it was time to renovate the White House after a leg on his daughter's piano broke right through the floor. Hear these funny, surprising stories and more about the most famous home in America and the extraordinary families who have lived in it.


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In case you've ever wondered, the walls at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue have eyes and ears -- and, what's more, they don't miss a thing. Now, listen up because the walls have a thing or two to tell you! During President John Tyler's presidency, the White House was such a mess that it was called the "Public Shabby House." President William Howard Taft was so large that he had In case you've ever wondered, the walls at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue have eyes and ears -- and, what's more, they don't miss a thing. Now, listen up because the walls have a thing or two to tell you! During President John Tyler's presidency, the White House was such a mess that it was called the "Public Shabby House." President William Howard Taft was so large that he had to have a jumbo-size bathtub installed -- one big enough for four people. President Andrew Jackson's "open door" policy at the White House resulted in 20,000 people showing up for his inauguration party. (The new president escaped to the quiet of a nearby hotel!) President Abraham Lincoln didn't mind at all that his younger sons, Tad and Willie, kept pet goats in their White House bedrooms. Children all across the country sent in their own money to build an indoor swimming pool for wheelchair-bound President Franklin D. Roosevelt so that he could exercise. President Harry S. Truman knew it was time to renovate the White House after a leg on his daughter's piano broke right through the floor. Hear these funny, surprising stories and more about the most famous home in America and the extraordinary families who have lived in it.

30 review for If the Walls Could Talk: Family Life at the White House

  1. 5 out of 5

    Selene Vasquez

    This book is awesome! very kid friendly and fun to read to kids! I love how the author/illustrator made the story like a cartoon! the characters in the book have big heads and small bodies! The story has interesting facts about the presidents while living in the white house.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    This is a wonderful history book on the White House and all of the president's that lived in the house through George W. Bush. My favorite part of the book is that it gives the history of the White House and quotes from the First Family. There is even a line that Andrew Johnson liked to quilt, as a certified teacher of history and a quilter, this was a fascinating fact to learn. There are so many fun tidbits throughout the book that you almost forget that it is non-fiction and a book meant to te This is a wonderful history book on the White House and all of the president's that lived in the house through George W. Bush. My favorite part of the book is that it gives the history of the White House and quotes from the First Family. There is even a line that Andrew Johnson liked to quilt, as a certified teacher of history and a quilter, this was a fascinating fact to learn. There are so many fun tidbits throughout the book that you almost forget that it is non-fiction and a book meant to teach you something. This fun feeling is also helped along by the illustrations in the book. They are done by Gary Hovland and are done in ink and watercolor. The illustrations of the people are done in the caricature style and bring a levity and humor to the book. The book ends with fun questions about each President, many of the answers are fictionalized, but fun to read nonetheless. I would use this book with all grade levels, as I believe it has something to offer everyone. As a teacher of history, I was able to learn something new in the book. At the end of the book there is a complete bibliography which allows students the ability to further their research and learning.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Carole

    A brief look at some of our presidents told in a picture book setting.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sasha

    If the Walls Could Talk: Family Life at the White House Author: Jane O'Connor Illustrator: Gary Hovland Date of Publication: Award: 2004 Genre: Non-Fiction, History, Commedy, Picture Book Summary: This is an entertaining retelling of stories and quotes about the President. These are the less known/celebrated stories and offers a unique look into history of Washingtion, the White House and the iconic people who resided there. Evaluative Commentary: Funny caricature style drawings are great to engage th If the Walls Could Talk: Family Life at the White House Author: Jane O'Connor Illustrator: Gary Hovland Date of Publication: Award: 2004 Genre: Non-Fiction, History, Commedy, Picture Book Summary: This is an entertaining retelling of stories and quotes about the President. These are the less known/celebrated stories and offers a unique look into history of Washingtion, the White House and the iconic people who resided there. Evaluative Commentary: Funny caricature style drawings are great to engage the student in what can at times be dull historical accounts. The book starts out with a great map of the white house. The layout is complex.... with multiple fonts and lay outs and informational pop up boxes making it more appropriate for an accomplished reader. Discussion Questions: What embarrassed George Washington in regarding the naming of the capital? What does this reveal about his character? How was Washington different in 1792 than it is now? Who built the white house? What are some problems faced by John Adams and his family in the early ears of the White House? Why did Thomas Jefferson not a fan of the White house? Choose your favorite quote from one of the presidents and explain why you resonated with it. What happened in 1812 to the White house? What has changed about the securing of the white house from the days of John Quincy Adams? What did Andrew Jackson believe regrding the accesibility of the white house? What does this tell us about this president? Which president had the most children of any president? Who was the first president to have his picture taken in the white house? The book mentions some pretty fun games that Presedential children played, which one would you have liked to play too? Comprehension Strategy: This can be a great book during a unit on US Presidents or around the President Day Holliday. Also this could be a good supplement book if the students do a tour of the white house. Great suggestions for additional reads in the back of the book!This can be a read aloud, guided reading or independent reading. Also you can focus on certain presidents according to the unit/time period discussed in class. Extension activity: Make an alternative sketch/model of the white house. Based on some additional research on a President/First lady make an additional page to the book staying true to the illustration style, layout etc. Make a comparison between three different presidents based on what you learned from the book. (journal entry, group activity?) If you became President and lived in the White house, what would you change and why? List some White House Traditions. List some pets who have lived in the white house. Write a report on the evolution of the role of the First Lady at the White House. There is also a QA section Ask The President? Which can be used for a partners activity or addopted for a trivia game. Electronic resource:http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/insid... Virtual tour of the white house

  5. 5 out of 5

    L-Crystal Wlodek

    If The Walls Could Talk: Family Life at the White House is recommended for students in grades 3-6. It is a book that walks readers through the lives of the presidents in order from George Washington to George W. Bush. Throughout the book, interesting facts are mentioned relating to their stays at the White House. The presidents mentioned look like bobble heads and at the end of the book, each president answers a frequently asked question about the White House. The trivia given throughout the boo If The Walls Could Talk: Family Life at the White House is recommended for students in grades 3-6. It is a book that walks readers through the lives of the presidents in order from George Washington to George W. Bush. Throughout the book, interesting facts are mentioned relating to their stays at the White House. The presidents mentioned look like bobble heads and at the end of the book, each president answers a frequently asked question about the White House. The trivia given throughout the book is funny, surprising, intriguing, and engaging. . The presidents are drawn with have oversized heads, looking much like bobble figures. Some also have dialogue bubbles with relevant facts and comments. The frequently asked questions section located in the back of the book also gave some useful information. The illustrations are in a political cartoon style. This story greatly reminded me of the book So You Want To Be President? It even had some similar facts represented throughout the book. This book would be best used in the classroom as an introduction to a government lesson, unit, or inquiry project.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    Picture book telling stories about each family that has lived in the White House, like Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower having side-by-side televisions and watching different programs at the same time, and Warren Harding actually losing some of the White House china in a poker game. I liked these tidbits – I love little pieces of history trivia!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Shelli

    A chronological caricature picture book of the U.S. Presidents from Washington to George W. Bush telling a little bit about their time in the White House and the changes they brought to it. I loved the illustrations and bits of memorable trivia about this famous house and its residence. Perfect for any elementary school library or classroom.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Cole and I found this book about the White House to be very interesting and entertaining. We learned some facts. The illustrations were great, too!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lizzie

    Cartoonish drawing with pithy facts about White House families. Kid friendly and fun; stops at GW Bush.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Teri

    Fun book full of facts, fun illustrations, and just the type of trivia I'm hungry for before a visit to the White House. Fun book full of facts, fun illustrations, and just the type of trivia I'm hungry for before a visit to the White House.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bronson Lauper

  12. 5 out of 5

    Anna Farris

    This is a really neat book. This book goes through each presidency (through George W. Bush) and describes their time living in the White House with their families. Each page gives a significant part of their contribution to the White House, fun facts and quotes, and an illustration with interesting things from their story. Most of the pages include information about the family of the President and contain a picture of their pets. There are interesting facts like how William Henry Harrison's wife This is a really neat book. This book goes through each presidency (through George W. Bush) and describes their time living in the White House with their families. Each page gives a significant part of their contribution to the White House, fun facts and quotes, and an illustration with interesting things from their story. Most of the pages include information about the family of the President and contain a picture of their pets. There are interesting facts like how William Henry Harrison's wife never got to live in the White House and how Gerald Ford's daughter had her senior prom in the White House. The back of the book includes a question for each President that you might have thought of while reading the book. This is one of the coolest books I have seen. I love that it does not skip through the Presidents and only cover the "important" ones. This book covers each President and looks at the many changes to the White House even though many of them may seem mundane. The illustrations of this book are very detailed and you see something different every time you look at a page. I could look at this book for hours. This book has the potential to be invaluable in a classroom. You could cover a page a day or a President a day and learn about the different Presidents. This book is a little more advanced so I would probably use this in a mid-elementary or upper elementary classroom. I think students would love reading this book. This would be so interesting to include in history lessons about Presidents.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Airynn

  14. 4 out of 5

    Maria

  15. 5 out of 5

    Terri Church

  16. 5 out of 5

    La Fullwood

  17. 4 out of 5

    Donna Bowman

  18. 5 out of 5

    Joanna Mugglin

  19. 4 out of 5

    Stacy Ford

  20. 4 out of 5

    Seth

  21. 5 out of 5

    Gary

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ellen Kehs

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

  24. 5 out of 5

    Martin

  25. 4 out of 5

    Heather Cato

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kendra

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mrs. Rachel Myers

  28. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  30. 4 out of 5

    Connorm

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