President Adams’ Alligator

President Adams9781621570356_p0_v1_s260x420President Adams’ Alligator

Peter W. Barnes, Author

Cheryl Shaw Barnes, Illustrator

Little Patriot Press, Historical Fiction, Feb. 4, 2013

Suitable for Ages: 6 and Up

Themes:  Animals, Pets, Presidents, White House

Opening“What is your favorite pet?” Mrs. Tucker asked her class.  All the children answered at once: ‘My  mouse…kitty…big snake…guinea pig…pony…dog’.”  Billy drew a picture of his favorite pet, an alligator, and the class laughed.   Mrs. Tucker explained to the class that our presidents had some very unusual pets, even an alligator.

Synopsis:  Today is President’s Day, so I thought I would share a new book about the menagerie of pets owned by past and current presidents and their families.  Until the 20th century, all the presidents had stables with horses and ponies.   George Washington had hunting dogs and  horses.  He wanted to make sure they had strong teeth, so he had their teeth brushed regularly.   Thomas Jefferson had two grizzly bears and a mockingbird, who loved to sit on his shoulder and sing along while the president played the violin.  William Henry Harrison had his cow, Sukey, with him.   And, John Quincy Adams  was given an alligator.  President Adams didn’t know what to do with the alligator, so he put him in a bathtub in the East Room.  Many of the presidents received gifts from kings from other countries.  Martin Van Buren received two tiger cubs and James Buchanan was given a whole herd of elephants, which went to a zoo.  President Lincoln had ponies, rabbits, goats and a turkey named Jack.  Jack was supposed to be Christmas dinner, but his son Tad begged his Dad to let him live.  Woodrow Wilson had sheep.  But dogs have always been popular pets with presidential families, including the Bush family’s Springer spaniels, and the Obama’s famous Portuguese Water Dog, Bo.

Why I like this book:  Kids love animals and will delight in learning about all the funny stories about White House pets.   Peter W. Barnes and Cheryl Shaw Barnes, teamed up to write this historical and entertaining book for children.    In February 2002, Cheryl Barnes received a phone call from First Lady Laura Bush’s office and was  asked to illustrate the 2002 Holiday Program, “All Creatures Great and Small.”  She and her husband have now taken all their research and written this delightful book for children.   They have written many books featuring animal characters that teach children about history and government, including the House Mouse and Senate Mouse. 

Resources:  The book includes back pages of activities, resources for parents and teachers, a pet matching game and a Presidential Pets Fact or Fiction page.

This book has been provided to me free of charge by the publisher in exchange for an honest review of the work.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

23 thoughts on “President Adams’ Alligator

  1. How fascinating, Pat! What wonderful house warming gifts. An alligator? At least they have room for them. Great post!


  2. This is a very different offering! A book like this could actually make President’s day fun! Makes them look more real. I think I’ll have to find this book! Thanks for sharing! And a happy President’s Day to you!


  3. Sounds such fun and educational at the same time. I only discovered an hour ago that it was President’s day when I went to two closed libraries.


  4. Hi Patricia,
    I am thrilled that you reviewed our book…Thank you….thank you… for the favorable comments….OK rave reviews! Since I am a pet lover….we presently share our home with 5 kitties (all rescue….they own us!) I loved doing the research and sharing the info through my illustrations and my husband’s Peter’s writing. Trying to teach kids American history and civics in a FUN and fanciful way is what gets us up in the morning!


    • Cheryl,
      Thank you for leaving a comment. I can tell a lot of research went into this book. Children will love all of the little details you uncovered about the White House pets. I love your passion for helping kids understand American history and how the government functions — that makes it all the more meaningful. I wish you and your husband many more successful books. There are so many stories to tell.



  5. Pingback: A First Lady Fears She Wouldn’t Shut Up: Abigail “Mrs. President” Adams, January 29, 1797 « Carl Anthony Online

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