Author Leslie Kimmelman has a way of making any subject interesting. For example, she plucked an understandably mundane story from history about who came to a White House dinner in 1939 and what was on the menu and brought it to side-splitting life.
Hot Dog! Eleanor Roosevelt Throws a Picnic tells tidbits about Eleanor Roosevelt’s private life (she loved grilling and eating hotdogs!) and a lot about her public life as the “eyes and ears” of her president husband who was confined to a wheel chair.
As first lady of the White House, Eleanor always hosted what she referred to as “hot dog-less” meals for important visitors. When the King and Queen of England come for a visit in 1939, she seizes the opportunity to introduce them to one of her favorite cuisines – hot dogs encased in buns and bathed in delicious mustard.
Leslie Kimmelman seems to have an affinity for the Roosevelt’s. She is also the author of Mind Your Manners, Alice Roosevelt, a book which, like this one, brings the otherwise obscure lives of the Roosevelt’s to side-splitting life. Ms. Kimmelman’s prose is both factual and intimate: Factual in that children and adults always happily learn much more than they expected, and intimate in that her style of writing makes you feel you’re sharing a hilarious secret with a close friend.
Artist Victor Juhasz’s illustrations are perfect for this book. He expertly captures authentic landscapes, period costumes, vintage appliances, the dark-and-gray colors of war, and the adorable expressions of the reserved king and queen of England.
Even the book’s cover is funny. Lady Eleanor grins like a Cheshire cat as she presents a platter of delicious hotdogs to her dinner guests. The prim and proper Queen of England gawks at the hotdogs as if she’s has no clue what to do with this edible curiosity. All the while, the King sips his tea and looks as if he’s holding himself back from pouncing all over the mustard-clad dogs.
This book will make a funny and factual addition to any elementary library or elementary social studies classroom. For myself, I’m adding it to my growing Leslie Kimmelman collection!
Best wishes and happy hot dogs,