George Washington: The President and Me

Written by Deborah Kalb Robert Lunsford (illus.)
Review by Anne Clinard Barnhill

This is the story of a fifth-grade boy, Sam, and a magic hat. When Sam’s class is visiting Mt. Vernon, the boy buys a colonial hat from the gift shop. But when Sam puts on the hat, he discovers it has an unusual ability: it transports the wearer back in time. Sam finds himself briefly taken back to the days of George Washington’s youth and actually meets the first president face to face. However, the minute he removes his hat, Sam finds himself returned to the present day. As Sam travels back and forth in time, the nascent history of the USA comes to life. Sam and Washington become friends as Sam observes the major milestones of Washington’s life.

But Sam also lives in the current day and, like most fifth-graders, is learning how to deal with disappointment in friendship as well as getting his own way. When Sam’s best friend, Andrew, seems to be passing him over for new pals on the baseball team, Sam is devastated. Add to that the fact that he didn’t get the lead in the school play—it went to Oliver, a weird kid nobody likes—and Sam has a lot to concern him.

Told with humor and understanding, this book will give the reader a different view of George Washington, hopefully, sparking further curiosity in the reader. As Sam figures out his own problems, the reader begins to understand the complexity of relationships. This book is good read on its own, or used as an introduction to the American Revolution in a history class.