Friday, Dec. 17, 2004

What Presidents Are Made Of By Hannah Piven

Andrew Jackson? A pistol mouth, a boxing-glove nose and bullets as eyes. Theodore Roosevelt? Gears for eyes, a light-bulb nose and a coiled-wire mustache. Piven's highly inventive collage portraits are matched with amusingly quirky tidbits about the Presidents (the pugnacious Jackson's penchant for dueling, the busy Roosevelt's bustling energy). Most of the jokes are benign — George W. Bush, a former baseball-team owner, has a hot-dog nose and buns for eyebrows — but Piven also meets darker facts head on: Richard Nixon's face is formed with a tape recorder, and his prominent nose is actually an ear. It's all so sprightly that young readers won't realize they're learning history. They'll think they're just having fun.