President Taft Is Stuck in the Bath (Hardcover)
Candlewick Press (MA), 9780763663179, 32pp.
Publication Date: March 25, 2014
George Washington crossed the Delaware in the dead of night. Abraham Lincoln saved the Union. And President William Howard Taft, a man of great stature -- well, he got stuck in a bathtub. Now how did he get unstuck? Author Mac Barnett and illustrator Chris Van Dusen bring their full comedic weight to this legendary story, imagining a parade of clueless cabinet members advising the exasperated president, leading up to a hugely satisfying, hilarious finale.
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Praise For President Taft Is Stuck in the Bath…
[A] delightful, smart, and silly story about the most famous bathtub misadventure in U.S. presidential history. Chris Van Dusen’s bold gouache illustrations make eager use of double-page spreads, creating the scene and capturing the sly jokes and apt personifications within Barnett’s rhythmic prose. These larger-than-life renderings and the no-nonsense dialogue perfectly suit the occasion, juxtaposing the grandeur of the White House with the exposed Taft... Fleshy, funny, and fact-checked, this perfect Inauguration Day readaloud will plump up any presidential collection.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Van Dusen depicts the mustached, apoplectic president scrunched with knees to chest; in gouache caricatures, he emphasizes Taft's ample flesh and visualizes the staffers' dubious solutions (such as greasing the tub with fresh-churned butter or blowing it "into smithereens"). ... [T]here's no denying the riveting spectacle of Taft's struggle.
Barnett spins a probably apocryphal but nonetheless hilarious incident into a Cabinet-level crisis. ... The soapiest, splashiest frolic featuring a head of state since Audrey and Don Wood’s "King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub" (1985).
This larger-than-life example will provoke much laughter. ... Van Dusen’s spread of cascading water pitching Taft’s posterior into the air and out the window will surely please the intended audience. The energy in the gouache compositions, dominated by a presidential blue, comes from the motion lines around the frustrated, fleshy, quadruple-chinned head of state, as well as the preposterous solutions proposed.
—School Library Journal
The combination of Barnett’s repetitive assonance and Van Dusen’s gouache caricature illustrations (with strategically placed water and bubbles) sets the hilarious tone. A concluding author’s note reveals an archival photo of four men sitting in Taft’s custom-built bathtub for the White House and presents the actual facts pertaining to the president and his numerous commissioned bathtubs. Studying the presidency need never be dull again.
The funniest kids' history book we've seen in a while. ... Lots of silly fun.
—New York Post