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Dolley Madison Saves George Washington    by Don Brown order for
Dolley Madison Saves George Washington
by Don Brown
Order:  USA  Can
Houghton Mifflin, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Daninhirsch

I love books that introduce children to history in an entertaining way, and this well-written picture book certainly fits the bill. It features former First Lady, Dolley Madison, wife of the fourth president of the United States, James Madison. She is portrayed as a charming and gregarious figure who often helped the widower Thomas Jefferson throw parties at the White House.

Dolley Madison took special care of her surroundings and ensured that the White House was properly redecorated. Dolley especially loved a lifesize portrait of George Washington. When a war between Britain and the United States was brewing, many people fled, but Dolley stayed behind until she was sure that the portrait of George Washington was moved to a safe location. Sure enough, the city of Washington burned, as did the White House, but the portrait of a former president was saved.

Portraying Dolley Madison as a strong and brave heroine, this is a good picture book for elementary school aged children to learn a little known fact about American history. The sketch-like illustrations help keep the story moving along.  With the exception of the book's cover, the picture of George Washington's portrait is drawn more realistically than the rest of the drawings, which adds an extra layer of authenticity to the story.

The same author has written other biographical children's books featuring a variety of historical figures, some of whom were well known and some of whom were more obscure. Examples include The Notorious Izzy Fink, Alice Ramsey's Grand Adventure, and Ruth Law Thrills a Nation.

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