Book review: Your Presidential Fantasy Dream Team, by Daniel O’Brien, illustrated by Winston Rowntree

O’Brien, Daniel. Your Presidential Fantasy Dream Team. Il. by Winston Rowntree. Crown. 2016. $13.99. 264p. ISBN 978-0-553-53747-5. Ages 11-14. P4Q5

Each of the 38 U.S. presidents no longer alive receive flip and sometimes irreverent profiles heavily illustrated in black and white drawings with the goal of whether each one should be on the author’s fantasy dream team. O’Brien leans conservative in his adulation of Ronald Reagan and his put-down of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal which saved the country from the Great Depression and gave the country such benefits as Social Security. Although he emphasized Warren G. Harding’s affair with Carrie Phillips, O’Brien ignored relationships of other presidents such as Thomas Jefferson fathering children with his slave, Sally Hemings, and John F. Kennedy’s numerous sexual relationships outside his marriage. In telling about another of his heroes, Andrew Jackson, O’Brien also skipped over the president’s nickname of “Indian killer” and the background for this term. And the story about Theodore Roosevelt giving a 90-minute speech would have been better if O’Brien had included the fact that the 50 pages of the speech in his breast pocket probably saved his life. An advantage of the book is its demonstration that presidents throughout the past two centuries are as imperfect as many contemporary candidates, but readers need to find other information about the subjects in the book to give a more balanced view of presidents. The book is a less risqué version for young people of his 2014 book for adults, How to Fight Presidents.

Verdict: Purchase of this book is recommended for libraries with unlimited budgets.

January 2017 review by Nel Ward.

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