Review: President Taft is Stuck in the Bath
Thursday, June 11, 2015 10:00 AM

President Taft is Stuck in the Bath by Barnett, Mac. illus. by Chris Van Dusen. Candlewick Press. 2014. ISBN: 9780763663179.


It can be rare for children to get a comedic look at one of our nation’s presidents. Twenty-seventh president, William Howard Taft was a large man and though no definitive proof exists that he got stuck in a tub, Barnett and Van Dusen make the most of this historical rumor. When First Lady Nellie Taft comes in to find her husband stuck in the tub she helps him summon his office heads. The Vice President, the Secretaries of state, agriculture, war, navy, treasury, and interior all have suggestions for ways to get him out. They suggest everything from butter to money to dynamite! Nellie suggests that they all pull together (including the dog!) with hilarious results. Never fear! Water and strategically drawn bubbles keep everything covered!


The book’s simple language will help children to understand the various cabinet roles in a fun, easy-to-assimilate way. The gouache illustrations are bright, clear and colorful. Children will have to laugh at the image of a bare-bottomed president popping through a window onto the White House lawn. The humor may not be for everyone but when combined with president’s accomplishments listed in the back matter, this book becomes a good choice for a read-a-loud or a classroom tool.

Further Information

Reminiscent of King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub by Audrey and Don Wood, this picture book will have you laughing out loud. It could be useful for PreK-3rd who are learning about presidents but some of the humor may be over their heads. Even middle school students will enjoy this one. It would be a great addition to any Presidents or U.S. history lesson or display.

If you liked President Taft is Stuck in the Bath then you might like Rutherford B. Who Was He? by Marylin Singer, John, Paul, George and Ben by Lane Smith (or really any book by Lane Smith), and So You Want to be President by Judith St. George.

—Review by Claire Covington

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