Too bad I didn’t read this book until after President’s Day. For one thing, in it, the President of the United States Never. Wears. Clothes. Not once.

The story is a tall tale, slightly reminiscent of King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub, but I was impressed by all the good nonfiction research that went into this frankly fictional piece. The back matter explores the history of the rumor that Taft got stuck in a bathtub (as well as the blatant lie he told, saying he had never installed extra large bathtubs for himself). Barnett dug up a great black and white photo of four burly workmen sitting in Taft’s new bathtub before it’s installed.

And even within the story itself, Barnett and VanDusen take pains to get things right. The book opens with an accurate list of Taft’s real accomplishments. The right titles are given for the members of the cabinet who get involved in helping the president out of the bathtub. Barnett has the name of the vice president of the time, even down to his unlikely middle name–James Schoolcraft Sherman.

But most wonderful of all, VanDusen has taken pains to fit his caricactures to real people. Taft is obvious. But here’s Vice-President Sherman in real life:

sherman cropped





And here is VanDusen’s illustration:






Here’s the First Lady, Nellie Taft:







And here is VanDusen’s illustration:

Nellie cropped







President Taft is Stuck in the Bath by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Chris VanDusen. Candlewick:2014