Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'White House Breakout' a Great Escape

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'White House Breakout' a Great Escape

Article excerpt

Byline: BRANDY HILBOLDT ALLPORT

With some of the agitation caused by primary fever assuaged, the presidential election still whirls at full tilt. It might seem a bit early to talk about who will live in the White House in real life, but a new book presents the ideal opportunity to imagine one version of the future. The scenario offered in The Great White House Breakout is told from the point of view of a grade-schooler named Sam. He addresses readers directly:

My mom and dad work at home. I have to be careful not to bother them when I play. We moved to Washington, D.C., because of my mom's job. She is the President of the United States. My dad is the First Guy. Everyone listens to my mom. Everyone but my cat, Warren, and our friend Leonard.

Before he lived with the First Family, Leonard was a lab rat for NASA so, obviously, he is really smart. Sam tires of supervised life at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. (The guys with the phone cords in their ears are always listening to us. I think my mom hired them to make sure we don't have any fun.) The boy and the rat develop an escape plan and spend their hard-won free time looking for pirates, crossing the Atlantic and reading fascinating old papers. That is, they hang out by the tidal basin near the Jefferson Memorial, tour the Air and Space Museum and drop by The National Archives.

White House Breakout's premise of looking at circumstances through the eyes of a child is not a new one, but it is done so deftly in these pages - through words and drawings - that Sam and Leonard's escapades result in many, many laughs. No wonder. Adults know the people who created the book (Dial Books, $16.99) pretty well. The author is Helen Thomas, former White House correspondent, and according to the book jacket, "she's had her share of White House adventures - luckily she's still allowed to live in Washington, D.C." Written as only Sam could say it. Chip Bok rendered the illustrations. Doesn't ring a bell? The Week magazine named him Cartoonist of the Year for 2007, and he is the recipient of two major awards from the National Cartoonist Society. Oh yes, and there is that Pulitzer Prize finalist line on his resume, too. …

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