John F. Kennedy: A Photographic Story of a Life

DD179 DK Bio JFK_PPB.qxdJohn F. Kennedy: A Photographic Story of a Life by Howard S. Kaplan. DK Publishing, 2004. 128 pages. Publisher recommends for ages 10-17. ISBN: 9780756603403.

This book is adequate. It’s full of solid information about Kennedy. He wasn’t healthy, he competed with his older brother throughout their childhood and adolescence, he was smart but not a great student, he was a hero in the second world war when his PT boat was fired on and fell to pieces, he started in the House of Representatives, then moved to the Senate, and finally to the White House. Along the way he married Jacqueline Bouvier and they had two children.

These are all facts. I’m impressed with the amount of information in this 128 page book. I was surprised to find facts I didn’t know. For example, I didn’t realize that Jack Kennedy abstained from voting when the Senate voted to censure Joseph McCarthy.  I wish the author had addressed allegations that Kennedy’s father bought the Chicago vote for Kennedy and thus the presidential race.

The book doesn’t read as if it’s crammed with facts. It’s more like a narrative and less like a textbook.

Kennedy was killed when I was five years old. My parents cried as they watched his funeral. Why? His death was a loss beyond words, because in life he had an inexpressible greatness. I wish the book conveyed Kennedy’s place in the American pantheon.

This book is written almost entirely in the present tense. I found the use of present tense confusing when the author wanted to write about events to come and events that had happened already. The present tense, plus the use of “Jack” instead of “Kennedy” or “President Kennedy” serve to make Kennedy seem like a buddy.

The book is full of black and white and color photographs. Each photograph is accompanied by a short paragraph. In addition, short side paragraphs are scattered throughout the book. I sometimes have trouble with DK books because it’s hard to follow the main text with so many distractions. In this book, the distractions are kept to a minimum.

Shortly after Kennedy was killed, I thought it made sense that just as Jesus was resurrected, so Kennedy would be resurrected. If the book spent more time on Kennedy as a human being instead of focusing on the facts of his life, I suspect a reader of the book wouldn’t be surprised that I expected I might see Kennedy on the subway weeks after his death.

Blog Reviews:

Through The Looking Glass Children’s Book Reviews

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