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George Washington's Teeth

by Deborah Chandra and Madeleine Comora
Illustrated by Brock Cole

Published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2003
40 pages
ISBN: 0–374–32534–0

Ages 7-11

George Washington’s tooth problems plagued him all of his adult life. During the French and Indian War, he was even afraid the British would make fun of his dental problems. Authors Deborah Chandra and Madeleine Comora make light of George’s plight (“George crossed the icy Delaware / With nine teeth in his mouth. / In that cold and pitchy dark, / Two more teeth came out!”) in this lighthearted story. But their hilarious romp is followed by a marvelous, detailed timeline of Washington’s life, full of dental details that make it clear this was no laughing matter: Not only was he often in great pain because of his many mouth problems, his health was compromised as well. As for those fabled wooden teeth, he never had them. But he did wear false teeth made of a number of no-less-intriguing materials, from hippopotamus and walrus ivory to the teeth of cows, elk, and humans. Brock Cole’s lively, humorous illustrations are a perfect accompaniment to the narrative, while archival materials, including stern-faced portraits of Washington (whose teeth made him an unlikely candidate for smiling) and photographs of Washington’s last set of dentures, illustrate the timeline. Highly Commended, 2004 Charlotte Zolotow Award. CCBC Categories: Historical People, Places, and Events.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center


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