A noteworthy review of Our Presidents from Children's Literature on January 1, 2002
This entry in the well-written ‘Our Presidents’ series provides an overview of Zachary Taylor’s life, a mention of his early years on the Kentucky frontier, his actions in driving Native Americans from their lands and his bravery in the Mexican War. The text also covers his challenges in facing down slavery and the beginning of the Panama Canal construction. Several photographs exist of Taylor but most illustrations are taken from art of the day and other depictions, including one lurid illustration of a frontier family fighting off a Native American attack. One-page sections include one that reveals Taylor’s ruthlessness toward Seminoles, another in which Abraham Lincoln suggests ways young men can support Taylor, and one on the recent inquiry into whether Taylor had been poisoned or died of stomach ailments. Sidebars include interesting facts and picture captions are informative and lengthy enough to inform casual browsers. Each book in the series ends with a glossary defining highlighted words in the text, a timeline specific to the president’s life, a complete table of presidents through George W. Bush with their home states, life spans, presidential spans, political party and the name of their first ladies. Included are a page of ‘Presidential Facts’ and numerous web sites and relevant suggested other resources, as well as an index. All in all, it’s a strong, informative and very readable contribution to the literature about presidents for upper elementary and middle school readers.