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Hot Dog! Eleanor Roosevelt Throws a Picnic Review by Tess HamreLeslie Kimmelman
Sleeping Bear Press
315 Eisenhower Parkway, Suite 200
Ann Arbor, MI 48108
It is 1939 and the King and Queen of England are coming to visit. First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt loves hosting hot dog roasts and decides to throw a picnic for the visiting royal couple. The menu includes Mrs. Roosevelt’s famous hot dogs. Author Leslie Kimmelman brings this bit of history to life. She begins by telling us about the First Lady’s love of hot dogs and how as, first lady, she no longer has the time to host hot dog roasts. Ms Kimmelman weaves the then current events into her story and shares about how Mrs. Roosevelt helped President Roosevelt.
When King George and Queen Elizabeth announce their visit, Mrs. Roosevelt decides that they must have an American style picnic and she plans the menu to include hot dogs. There is some public outcry over the thought of serving such an undignified food to such important royal visitors but Mrs. Roosevelt addresses the nation in a letter and the picnic plans proceed. Ms. Kimmelman does an excellent job describing the picnic including the reactions of the King and Queen. The story finishes with a 50 year reunion picnic held in the same location and with the same menu. The book ends with a note from the author that gives some historical background facts and confirms that this is a true story.
This hardcover 40 page book measures 9”x 11” and has full color illustrations. Written on a 5th grade level, this book will hold the interest of students ages 8-11. I think younger children ages 6-8 would also enjoy this book if they are used to hearing longer books read aloud. Developmentally my daughter is between 6-8 and this book not only held her interest when we read it aloud but she enjoyed and engaged with the story. She also enjoyed sitting with the book, looking at the pictures, and re-telling the story.
The full color illustrations remind me of watercolor paintings. I would describe the style as reminding me of caricatures. I did not find the style aesthetically pleasing; however, my daughter liked the pictures. She would thumb through the book, look at the pictures, and then comment. For example, while looking at a picture of Mrs. Roosevelt listening to the radio, she said, “she’s worried about the war coming.” On another picture, this one of a White House dinner party, she remarked that Mrs. Roosevelt was thinking of hot dogs because the picture included a hot dog in a cloud above Mrs. Roosevelt’s head.
This book is an excellent resource for elementary aged students studying the Franklin D. Roosevelt years. It would also make a great gift for a budding historian or a fun coffee table book for adult history lovers.