President Taft is Stuck in the Bath by Mac Barnett


NF PB 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!


President Taft is Stuck in the Bath
Author: Mac Barnett
Illustrator: Chris Van Dusen
Published March 25, 2014 by Candlewick Press

Goodreads Summary: George Washington crossed the Delaware in the dead of night. 

Abraham Lincoln saved the Union. 

William Howard Taft got stuck in a bathtub and then got unstuck. This is his story.

My Review and Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This is a humorous look at the myth (truth?) that President Taft got stuck in a bathtub when he was president. I will say that I never think making fun of someone’s weight is funny, but I don’t think that is really what the author is poking fun at (though some of the illustrations are very revealing of his overweightness). Throughout the book, he is trying to figure out how to get out and comes up with some crazy ideas calling in his vice president, secretary of state, secretary of war, etc. Each time, they cannot get him out of the bath. In the end, it is his wife that comes up with the idea that removes him.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Although I would say be careful with reading this aloud to kids as they are going to gravitate right towards the humor of Taft’s girth shown in the illustrations, I will say there is some real history shared here, specifically in Barnett’s afterword that is worth talking about. It is also fun to have some American mythology to discuss. Also, I would make sure to discuss all of the great things Taft did for our country with students, so he is not just known for this one mishap.

Discussion Questions: Do you think Taft actually got a special bathtub made? What makes you think so/not?

We Flagged: 

Read This If You Loved: King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub by Audrey Wood

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Tracy at Candlewick for providing a copy for review**

11 thoughts on “President Taft is Stuck in the Bath by Mac Barnett”

  1. I’ve been iffy about this but I do like Mac Barnett now. Famous people and their bathing habits seem to be a thing nowadays. At least there are two books about them.

  2. I’ve been watching the PBS special about the Roosevelts, & they mentioned Taft’s weight too, said he was over 300 pounds! I know about this book, but have never read it. Interesting to think about it as you’ve shared. Thanks, Kellee!

    • How is the PBS special? It looked intriguing.
      Taft’s weight is infamous. Makes me a little sad because I’m sure it wasn’t what he wanted to be remembered for. However, it did make for a quite intriguing book and an interesting debate.

  3. I read this book and first laughed, but then thought about how I am sure Taft’s family would not like that this is the way he is being remembered! It makes me torn about this book! With all the talk about bullying these days… Although the writing is fun and I love Van Dusen’s illustrations in every book he has illustrated… I haven’t purchased this book yet.

    • I understand Michele. I went back and forth. As someone who deals with weight issues, it saddens me that he is remembered because of his size. Although I did find this book funny it was more because of all of the things he does to try to get out (Like King Bidgood).


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