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How do you tell a life in picture book format? The most obvious story structure–birth to death–often flattens the historical character. It can be boring.

Zeroing in on a single moment in that astonishing life, though, makes that character spring to life. In Hot Dog! Eleanor Roosevelt Throws a Picnic Leslie Kimmelman writes about Eleanor Roosevelt by focusing on a single picnic in 1939. In the process of telling us the story of this outdoor feast, she shows us Eleanor Roosevelt’s personality and her passions, as well as giving us glimpses of FDR, the king and queen of England, and everyday American life at the time.

Kimmelman’s dive into primary sources shows in the book. We hear the voice of the outraged public in well-chosen quotes from angry letters and Eleanor Roosevelt’s measured response in her newspaper column (I only wish the quotes were attributed in the back matter!).

Victor Juhasz’s political cartoon-style illustrations are a great match for the easy-going, conversational voice of this book.

Pull out the mustard and relish and dig into this book!

Leslie Kimmelman. Hot Dog! Eleanor Roosevelt Throws a Picnic by Leslie Kimmelman, illustrations by Victor Juhasz. Sleeping Bear Press: 2014.