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From battling toothaches while fighting the British, to having rotten teeth removed by his dentists, the Father of His Country suffered all his life with tooth problems. Yet, contrary to popular belief, he never had a set of wooden teeth. Starting at the age of twenty-four, George Washington lost on average a tooth a year, and by the time he was elected president, he had only two left! In this reverentially funny tale written in verse and based on Washington's letters, diaries, and other historical records, readers will find out what really happened as they follow the trail of lost teeth to complete tooflessness.
Illustrated in watercolors with subtle humor by Brock Cole, the main story is followed by a four-page time line featuring reproduced period portraits of Washington.
Review: The creators of George Washington's Teeth unhinge the jaws of history to examine the mouth of America's first president, tracking the poor man's dental woes as he gallops to war, crosses the Delaware, and, with only two teeth left, takes his place as leader of the country. Washington was plagued by black, rotting teeth from the time he was 22, losing about one a year until he was nearly "toofless" and had to have his first dentures made from a hippotamus tusk (that's right, not wood!). Poets Deborah Chandra and Madeleine Comora begin their quirky historical tale at a lively clip: "The Revolutionary War/ George hoped would soon be won,/ But another battle with his teeth/ Had only just begun..." Indeed. Evidently he was losing teeth even as he crossed the Delaware: "George crossed the icy Delaware/ With nine teeth in his mouth./ In that cold and pitchy dark,/ Two more teeth came out!" (Cleverly, illustrator Brock Cole mimics Emanuel Leutze's famous painting "Washington Crossing the Delaware," making Washington seem more uncomfortably tight-lipped than dignified.) The story ends happily ever after with the crafting of a nice new pair of ivory false teeth that allow George to dance around the ballroom through the night. Truth be told, however, he would be deeply troubled by his teeth until the day he died. A four-page, illustrated historic timeline of Washington's life (and mouth) completes this carefully researched, very funny, charmingly illustrated picture book that works to humanize a larger-than-life historical figure and in turn, history itself. Brilliant! (Ages 7 and older) --Karin Snelson
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