28 March 2010

White House Reading



Last week, President Obama was spotted at Prairie Lights bookstore in Iowa City, where he picked up a few books for Sasha and Malia. The two books he chose (based on recommendations) were “Journey to the River Sea” by Eva Ibbotson and “The Secret of Zoom” by Lynn Dornell. While I haven't read the books (too many words, not enough pictures), a quick look reveals a rather thoughtful selection.

From Amazon's Journey to the River Sea Review:
Sent in 1910 to live with distant relatives who own a rubber plantation along the Amazon River, English orphan Maia is excited. She believes she is in for brightly colored macaws, enormous butterflies, and "curtains of sweetly scented orchids trailing from the trees." Her British classmates warn her of man-eating alligators and wild, murderous Indians. Unfortunately, no one cautions Maia about her nasty, xenophobic cousins, who douse the house in bug spray and forbid her from venturing beyond their coiffed compound.
From The Secret of Zoom website:
Christina lives in a stone mansion on the edge of a forest surrounded by barbed wire, an electrified fence, and signs that read TRESPASSERS WILL BE BOILED. Deep within the forest is the laboratory where her mother was blown to bits when Christina was just a baby. Christina’s father, the head scientist at Loompski Labs, knows how dangerous the world can be. So he keeps his daughter safe at home and forbids her to talk to the very interesting orphans down the road.
Both books feature a young girl who finds herself in unfamiliar surroundings and who must deal with a restriction on her freedom... which must resonate with the Obama girls as they cope with their new home in the Washington DC fishbowl and deal with living under the constant surveillance of the Secret Service.

The Obamas seem to have done a pretty good job of shielding their children from the intense scrutiny of the press (man-eating alligators?) and other intrusive forces, but I'm sure they are still concerned about their daughters' adjustment to life in the White House. Perhaps the Obamas have decided to turn to the world of children's literature for additional perspective. And even if the books weren't chosen for that reason, it was a fortuitous selection that should make for some interesting reading in the Obama household.

Note: I'll have to read the books to provide any more insight or parallels, but I'm willing to bet that the brightly colored macaw is a stand-in for John Boehner.

6 comments:

bel214 said...

Rather interesting that he chose these books - given their shared similarities are, as you mention, they are in unfamiliar places but have to deal with people who want to keep them restricted. Hm. Maybe someone should give them A Wrinkle In Time and offer that the GOP is a stand-in for IT...

tanita davis said...

The Ibbotson is really, really good. No pictures, sadly, but the cover is quite gorgeous ...

Tanya said...

I adore the Ibbotson book also! The "Zoom" book is actually by Lynne Jonell, who also wrote "Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat" and a sequel. Besides great pictures by Jonathan Bean scattered throughout the book, there is an "animated" flip book on the outer margins of the pages of a rat falling out of a tree. Brilliant. Good book, also. Haven't read "Zoom," yet though.

Thanks for calling this to our attention - it is interesting what books President Obama chooses to let his girls read. As a bookseller, I suspect he politely took whatever the giddy bookseller put in his hands...

Jess Stork said...

It is interesting what the books we pick says about us. The Secret of Zoom has a main character who is isolated by her well meaning dad after an accident. Perhaps not what President Obama wanted to imply to his daughter, but it's still a great book.

Jamie said...

It's a good book to read, very educational for children to learn.

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Jamie said...

It's a good book to read, very educational for children to learn.

childrens fantasy books