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The Many Faces of George Washington: Remaking a Presidential Icon


Free teacher guide with suggestions on how to use this book in ways that align with CCSS

Starred review in School Library Journal, Starred review in BCCB, Junior Library Guild Selection, ALA notables list, SLJ Best Books of 2011 list, Moonbeam Children's Book Award silver medal winner, Society of School Librarians 2011 Honor Book, BCCB Guide Book to Gift Books.


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***** STARRED REVIEW *****
School Library Journal

*MCCLAFFERTY, Carla Killough. The Many Faces of George Washington: Remaking a Presidential Icon. 120p. photos. reprods. bibliog. chron. further reading. index. notes. Web sites. CIP. Carolrhoda. 2011. RTE $20.95. ISBN 978-0-7613-5608-0; ebook $15.71. ISBN 978-0-7613-7157-1. LC 2010028178.
Gr 6 Up–The image of Washington that most people know is the version of the Gilbert Stuart portrait on the one dollar bill. That stiff-looking visage is disapproving and more than a bit dyspeptic. But is that rendition accurate? Not according to the team of forensic anthropologists and artists hired by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association to create life-sized re-creations of Washington as he looked at pivotal moments in his life: as a 19-year-old surveyor, a 45-year-old general of the Continental Army, and taking the oath of office at 57 as President of the United States. This interestingly and intelligently written book alternates chapters detailing the reconstruction process with Washington’s biography, making the changes in his appearance understandable as a function of his life experience and, of course, the history of the American Revolution and establishment of our democracy is limned simultaneously. The full-color images are excellent throughout and are astounding when showing the wax reconstructions. The reading level aims this at middle and high school readers, but the format looks younger. Thus, some promoting may be necessary. It’s worth it, however, for its excellent revitalization of a man often reduced to a lifeless icon. There’s an exemplary (and extensive) print bibliography, listing books, primary-source documents, articles, theses, DVDs, and interviews. Further reading suggestions and a list of websites, as well as a comprehensive and accurate index are appended. A stellar addition to most libraries.–Ann Welton, Helen B. Stafford Elementary, Tacoma, WA

***** STARRED REVIEW *****

McClafferty, Carla Killough The Many Faces of George Washington:
Remaking a Presidential Icon. Carolrhoda, 2011 120p illus. with photographs ISBN 978-0-7613-5608-0 $20.95   R* Gr. 5-9
The problem: people who see George Washington’s inaccurate image on their currency perceive him as stuffy and boring. The mission: remedy this misconception with three accurate, life-size models of G.W. as a nineteen-year-old surveyor, a forty-five-year-old general, and a fifty-seven-year-old president. The obstacle: The Mount Vernon estate is bound by law to prohibit anyone from disturbing G.W.’s remains, even for scientific study. Fortunately, eighteenth-century sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon left today’s creative team a critical legacy from which to start—a clay bust, a life mask, and a life-sized marble statue that were highly regarded by contemporaries for their accuracy. With the aid of digital scanners and computer imaging, Houdon’s artifacts could be safely examined and their meticulous measurements translated to capture G.W. at age fifty-three, from which point scientists and artists could adjust his age forward and backward. McClafferty alternates historical and technical chapters to first set the scene for each pivotal moment in G.W.’s career and to establish his probable frame of mind; then to describe how artists, costumers, wigmakers, and even taxidermists join efforts to make a wax figure that conveys a vital man rather than a revered icon. Readers will delight in juggling the myriad considerations that go into making the models—from the graphite stains on the young surveyor’s hand, to the graying hairs and thinning eyebrows of middle age, to the jawline shortened over time by tooth loss. This title employs the story-behind-the-story approach that made Sally Walker’s Secrets of a Civil War Submarine (BCCB 6/05) such a delight, and many readers inclined to give history books a cool reception will find themselves drawn by the creative process in operation here. Color photographs document the model making, and a timeline of Washington’s life, a thematic bibliography, a list for further reading, and an index are included. EB


Author: McClafferty, Carla Killough

Review Date: March 1, 2011
Pages: 120
Price ( Hardcover ): $20.95
Price ( e-book ): $15.71
Publication Date: April 1, 2011
ISBN ( Hardcover ): 978-0-7613-5608-0
ISBN ( e-book ): 978-0-7613-7157-1
Category: Nonfiction

With the goal of boosting interest in George Washington, in 2005 Mount Vernon commissioned three life-size reproductions of him at ages 19, 45 and 57. Enthusiastic prose and informative photographs convey in considerable detail the work on this project by a variety of experts, including sculptors, archaeologists, historians, dentists, painters, taxidermists and more. The process entailed extensive research, up-to-date technology such as laser scanners and age-old techniques of leatherwork and hand-sewing to form and clothe the lifelike figures now on display. Even one of his horses, Blueskin, was meticulously re-created. Chapters on the reconstruction alternate with biographical chapters about the corresponding years in Washington’s life, when he was a young surveyor and soldier, Revolutionary general presiding over early battles and Valley Forge and incoming president. Quotations from Washington and his contemporaries add a personal note, while reproductions of portraits, statues and artifacts supply visual interest. Color photographs show some of the steps in the reconstruction. The narrow focus makes this handsome volume likely to appeal to visitors to Mount Vernon or those with a special interest in Washington or in such reconstructions. Suggestions for further age-appropriate reading supplement an extensive bibliography. (timeline, source notes, websites, index) (Nonfiction. 11-14)


The Many Faces of George Washington: Remaking a Presidential Icon.
McClafferty, Carla Killough (Author)
Apr 2011. 120 p. Carolrhoda, hardcover, $20.95. (9780761356080). 973.4.
McClafferty begins with the rather stodgy image of George Washington on the one-dollar bill and explains how the Mount Vernon historical site commissioned three life-size figures of Washington that would give the public more accurate views of the man. Using high-tech laser scans and digital imaging as well as knowledge of period dentistry, hairstyles, and clothing, a team of experts created exhibits showing Washington as an ambitious surveyor at age 19, a determined military leader at age 46, and a dignified statesman at age 57. Well-written chapters covering Washington’s life are interspersed with others describing, in minute detail, how the figures were made. Fine color illustrations appear throughout the book, showing historical sites, artifacts, portraits, and the process of making the figures. The book concludes with a time line, sources notes for quotes, a selected bibliography, and recommended-reading lists. Presenting biographical information as well as exploring Washington’s visual representation, this handsome book finds a unique slant on the first president. — Carolyn Phelan