Book Review: “A Children’s Illustrated History of Presidential Assassination” by Bryan Young

An illustrated history of assassination seems like an odd topic for a children’s book. It seems even stranger when the topic becomes the assassination of the President of the United States. But, let’s face it: In the quest to explore the world around them, kids don’t come equipped with filters for social niceties. Topics that adults consider taboo, such as the death and murder – especially when it applies to the leader of one of the most power nations in the world – are often on a level playing field with the color wheel, multiplication tables, and the alphabet.

“A Children’s Illustrated History of Presidential Assassination” is a book geared toward those difficult discussions. Author Bryan Young simplifies the topic in prose that explains and educates without talking down or being condescending to the audience. Focusing on each of the presidents who was either assassinated or had an attempt made against them, his prose introduces each leader and places them in both an understandable political and historical context. Shying away from a simple list of names and dates, he makes each history lesson engaging and entertaining.

Accompanying the text are illustrations by two artists. Erin Kubinek provides detailed imagery with a simple and comic flair that illustrates key points while complimenting and enhancing the unfolding stories. Some of the drawings are a little gruesome, but that only helps the audience to understand how messy the topic truly is. The second artist is Scout Young, the author’s daughter, who adds a presidential portrait from the point of view of the book’s intended audience. Her drawings add a degree of whimsy to an interpretation of how she sees the topic, and as one of the inspirations for the book, it’s quite fitting to include her work as a touchstone for children and parents exploring of the darker sides of American history.

As a bonus, the book ends with a short story that provides a taste of the author’s fiction style. As a fan of Young’s “Lost at the Con,” both the short story and the history book were a wonderful display of his versatility and talent.

Bryan Young’s “A Children’s Illustrated History of Presidential Assassination” is a book I highly recommend.

A Children's Illustrated History of Presidential Assassination Cover

Day of Infamy

“Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”    —President Franklin D. Roosevelt

May the 2,402 American military, 57 American civilian, and 64 Japanese military casualties rest in peace.

This Day in History

October 26th is the 299th day of the year, or the 300th during leap years by the Gregorian calendar. There are 66 days remaining until the end of the year.  I’m also somewhat partial to it.

The following events are sourced from Wikipedia:

1609 – William Sprague, English co-founder of Charlestown, Massachusetts was born. Coincidentally, he died on the same day in 1675.

1774 – The first Continental Congress adjourns in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

1775 – King George III goes before Parliament to declare the American colonies in rebellion, and authorized a military response to quell the American Revolution.

1776 – Benjamin Franklin departs from America for France on a mission to seek French support for the American Revolution.

1825 – The Erie Canal opens, establishing passage from Albany, New York to Lake Erie.

1854 – C. W. Post, American entrepreneur is born. You know, the cereal guy?

1861 – The Pony Express officially ceases operations two days after the transcontinental telegraph reached Salt Lake City and connected Omaha, Nebraska and Sacramento, California.

1865 – Benjamin Guggenheim, American businessman and one of the most prominent American victims of the Titanic disaster, is born.

1874 – Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, prominent socialite, philanthropist, and the second-generation matriarch of the renowned Rockefeller family was born. She was especially noteworthy for driving the establishment of the Museum of Modern Art, on 53rd Street in New York.

1881 – The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral takes place at Tombstone, Arizona.

1914 – Jackie Coogan, Uncle Fester on 1960s sitcom The Addams Family, is born.

1916 – Boyd Wagner, First United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) fighter ace of WWII is born.

1936 – The first electric generator at Hoover Dam goes into full operation.

1940 – The P-51 Mustang makes its maiden flight.

1942 – Bob Hoskins (Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Hook) is born.

1942 – During World War II: In the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands during the Guadalcanal Campaign, one U.S. aircraft carrier, USS Hornet, is sunk and another aircraft carrier, USS Enterprise, is heavily damaged.

1944 – During World War II: The Battle of Leyte Gulf ends with an overwhelming American victory.

1946 – Pat Sajak, host of Wheel of Fortune is born.

1947 – Hillary Rodham Clinton, 67th United States Secretary of State, is born.

1947 – Jaclyn Smith, American actress and Charlie’s Angel, is born.

1953 – Keith Strickland, American musician from The B-52’s is born.

1955 – After the last Allied troops have left the country and following the provisions of the Austrian Independence Treaty, Austria declares permanent neutrality.

1956 – Rita Wilson, wife to Tom Hanks and American actress, is born.

1958 – Pan American Airways makes the first commercial flight of the Boeing 707 from New York City to Paris, France.

1959 – The world sees the far side of the Moon for the first time.

1961 – American actor Dylan McDermott is born.

1962 – Cary Elwes (Westley, from The Princess Bride) is born.

1963 – Singer Natalie Merchant is born.

1967 – Singer Keith Urban is born.

1972 – Igor Sikorsky, Russian-American pioneer of aviation in both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, dies.

1973 – Animator Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy) is born.

1977 – Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) is born.

1977 – The last natural case of smallpox is discovered in Merca district, Somalia. The WHO and the CDC consider this date the anniversary of the eradication of smallpox, the most spectacular success of vaccination.

1984 – “Baby Fae” receives a heart transplant from a baboon.

1984 – Figure skater and Olympic Silver medalist Sasha Cohen is born.

1985 – Fictional history:  At approximately 1:15 am, Doctor Emmett Brown successfully tests the world’s first time machine, built from the frame of a fully operational DeLorean.

2001 – The United States passes the USA PATRIOT Act into law.