All hail the red, white and blue—and all hail “The Next President, the Unexpected Beginnings and Unwritten Future of America’s Presidents,” by Kate Messner. This flag-waver offers educational facts in a most entertaining way, beginning with President George Washington right through the Presidency of Donald Trump.
The picture book begins in modern day times with illustrator Adam Rex’s brilliant spread set in a museum showing visitors of different ages and races gazing thoughtfully at portraits of presidents. With the turn of a page, we see a galley portrait of President George Washington, a number one button on his lapel.
“When George Washington became the first president of the United States, there were NINE future presidents already alive in America. Four of them were working alongside Washington in the nation’s new capital.”
On the facing page we meet them, Rex’s realistic illustration depicting the men talking and pondering paperwork: John Adams, President 2, Thomas Jefferson, President 3, James Madison, President 4 and James Monroe, President 5, each is shown with an accompanying antidote set off in a text block.
The book continues focusing on years down through the ages, with “Snapshots” of presidents in action, prior to their election and during. Thirty-three years before becoming president, Abraham Lincoln “…was on his way to New Orleans, working on a Mississippi riverboat full of farm produce,” “President 32, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was 15 and loved sailing when his family vacationed in Maine…”
The beauty of this gorgeous compilation is the way it humanizes our presidents, leaving readers to ponder “…where is the next president?’ Rex’s final illustration shows young people “growing up,” who just might “(grow) into the job.”