Dear, Mr. Washington by Lynn Cullen Book Review

Dear, Mr. Washington by Lynn Cullen
Illustrations by Nancy Carpenter
Publisher: Dial
Release Date: January 8, 2015

Charlotte, James, and baby John have promised to be on their very best behavior for when George Washington comes to have his portrait painted by their father, Gilbert Stuart. But, it seems like every time George Washington comes to visit, Charlotte has to write another apology letter, even when they try to follow George Washington’s Rules of Good Behavior. If these whippersnappers want any dessert, they are going to have to learn some manners—and fast! What results is a hilarious chain of events, a giant mess…and a painting that will be remembered for centuries to come.

A fictional tale surrounding a real life event, Dear, Mr. Washington was cute although a bit wordy. Full of pen and paper, acrylic paint on canvas, and digital media artwork, the illustrations were wonderful to look at. There is so much going on in each page, but nothing felt too busy or overdone. It reminded me a lot of Queen Victoria's Bathing Machine in this respect. The baby eats everything and one can see how hard the children are trying to behave as the story progresses. All the while, there is poor Gilbert Stuart trying to paint a portrait with the president who refuses to smile, only growing animated if one should mention horses in his company. I imagine Mr. Stuart and Mr. Washington talked a lot about horses. Again, it is a bit text heavy, which would make the book more appropriate for 2-4 graders, but it was very entertaining.