Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Day At The LBJ Ranch (1965)

A Day At The LBJ Ranch
Sam Savitt, author and illustrator
1965, Random House

"If we do meet the President, what should I say?"

Jackie and Dennis have been chosen to represent the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts on a visit to President Lyndon Baines Johnson's ranch in Texas. The two are understandably nervous about meeting their famous host, but before that moment arrives, they are taken on a tour of the ranch, riding Quarter Horses and learning about the history of the area and the Johnson family, as well as getting an inside look at the backstage of life at the Texas White House.

When the little calf tried to get back to its mother, the gray spun around almost faster than their eyes could follow. The horse kept facing the calf, quickly flanking it away from the others.

The kids, both enthusiastic riders, are impressed with the Western horses, and Jackie tries her hand at cutting - with mixed results.

Ultimately, a pleasant book and nicely illustrated, but a bit odd. It functions largely as a 'this is our President' tutorial, in a reader-friendly fictional format, with plenty of Texas history and landscape thrown in. The characters are flat and the brief story is not very involving, but the situation is so unique and the art is so Savitt that I think I'll hang onto my copy. Savitt, normally a decent writer, seems unable to maintain that quality in this very short, simpler format, and the style is wooden as a result.

Sam Savitt website
de Grummond Children's Literature Collection - Savitt
Johnson City (presidental hometown) Chamber of Commerce
Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park
Life Magazine photo of LBJ on his Tennessee Walking Horse mare, Lady B