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Rutherford B. Who Was He?

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Rutherford B. Who Was He?
Poems About Our Presidents
Written by Marilyn Singer and Illustrated by John Hendrix

 RutherfordB_Singer.Marilyn          RutherfordB HendrixHeadshotPhoto

Scroll down to find Related Activities & Resources, Book Talk Teasers, Read Alikes, and Book Reviews.

Readers Theater Script

Book Trailer

Author Interview

Illustrator Interview


Author Information:
Biography of Marilyn Singer:

The magic of poetry interview with Marilyn Singer (41:02):

Marilyn Singer shares writing advice:

Marilyn Singer shares 10 tips for writing poetry:

The Horn Book – Five questions for Marilyn Singer:

Spicy Reads interviews Marilyn Singer (9:56):

A video interview with Marilyn Singer (several short clips strung together):

Cynsations interview with Marilyn Singer part 1:

Cynsations interview with Marilyn Singer part 2:

Sidelights Sketch Something about the author:

Who Wrote That interview with Marilyn Singer:

The Miss Rumphius Effect interview with Marilyn Singer:

David Harrison’s Blog with Marilyn Singer:

Marilyn Singer awards and honors:

Illustrator Information:
John Hendrix portfolio:

John Hendrix bio:

John Hendrix questions and answers and video (2:27)

John Hendrix childhood drawings:

John Hendrix blogspot and book trailer:

John Hendrix on twitter:

John Hendrix on facebook:

The White House about the Presidents:

25 Multiple choice questions on the presidents:

How well do you know your presidents? (super fun):

11 multiple choice questions about the presidents:

Can you name the presidents?:

Name the president (gives clues):

Lots of presidential activities:

U.S. presidents fact quiz 7 questions:

Presidential nicknames:

Interesting facts and lessons on the presidents:

Fun Trivia quizzes (has several quizzes):

President’s Day activities (pictures and short bio of each president):

Venn Diagram 2 presidents worksheet:

Tally and graph favorite president:

Biography form for presidents:

Presidents acrostic form:

If I were president prompt:

Lots of crafts for presidents:

Pinterest Presidents Day crafts:

More Pinterest Presidents Day crafts:

Lesson plans, trivia, videos, etc. of the presidents:

Write haiku about a president.

Read the poems from Rutherford B. Who Was He? omitting the titles and names.  Guess who each poem is about.

Some of the poems are written ask conversations between 2 presidents. Write a poem between you and one of the presidents.

Research the presidents. Have the class debate which past president would be best at being president today.  Which president would be best at solving the issues of the day?

Which president is most like you? Explain.

If you could meet any of our past presidents which would it be and why?

Write a letter to a past president expressing an opinion on something he did and how you feel about him.

Write a letter to any president of the past offering advice.

What characteristics make a good president?

If you could ask a question to any president what would you ask and to whom?

If you were running for president which past president would you want running with you as vice president and why?

Write a poem about how you feel about being president.

Presidents struggle with solving the problems of the country, the  world, and keeping the country healthy. Write an article for the newspaper on how our president is doing.  Include facts. Try to rewrite your article as a poem.

Look at samples of political cartoons. Draw a political cartoon about one of the presidents.

All of our presidents had nicknames.  If you were president what would your nickname be? Presidential nicknames are listed in one of the websites above.

All presidents leave a legacy (what they are known for). If you were president what would you want your legacy to be?

Which president do you think all the other presidents would like to meet and why?

Of all the problems our presidents had to deal with which 5 decisions do you believe were the greatest? hardest to make? changed our country the most?

Which president do you admire the most other than Lincoln? Why? Turn your feelings about him into a poem.

Pretend our next president is a woman. Write a poem about it. Write a letter about it.

Have teams. Have a contest to see who can name the most presidents.

Play concentration using the presidents’ portraits. Play concentration using the president “nicknames.” See the nickname site above.

Have each student research a different president.Have students be reporters and interview the different presidents.  Each student answering like they think the president they researched would answer.

Which 2 presidents do you think would not like each other? Explain.

At the end of Rutherford B. Who was He? there is a short informational section on each president along with a quote each made.  Have students draw out a president’s name, read the informational section and explain what the quote means.

Make a list of the pros and cons of living in the White House.  Read the lists together as a poem using 2 voices. For each pro read an opposing voice will read a con.

Write a poem about no longer living in the White House and what it will be like.

Have a presidential facts contest drawing from the questions in the presidential quiz websites above. Have students come up 2 at a time and have a buzzer or bell they hit when they know the answer.  If someone answers wrong the opposing team may try to answer.



Perform the readers theater.

Tell interesting and funny facts about the presidents such as which president was stuck in the bathtub.



Genres ‘Children’s poetry’ and ‘Government and politics’ and the subject ‘Presidents’:
Alexander, Elizabeth. Praise song for the day. An illustrated interpretation of the poem that was commissioned for the 44th president’s inauguration conveys a message of hope and gratitude as well as a reminder of the responsibilities that individuals and communities share to help promote a better world. (NoveList)

Biography; Diaries; Government and politics; Narrative nonfiction for kids and teens; Science:
Chandra, Deborah. George Washington’s teeth. A rollicking rhyme portrays George Washington’s lifelong struggle with bad teeth. A timeline taken from diary entries and other nonfiction sources follows. (NoveList)

Genres ‘Children’s poetry’ and ‘Poetry for kids and teens’ and the subject ‘Presidents’:
Katz, Susan. The president’s stuck in the bathtub. A poetic celebration of lesser-known presidential events and eccentricities. (NoveList)

Genre Biography; Collective biographies; Government and politics; Picture Books; Picture books for children:
Piven, Hanoch. What presidents are made of. Through a review of fun facts, personal traits, and amusing anecdotes, young readers can learn about the personalities behind the men who became the president of the nation. (NoveList)

O’Connor, Jane. If the walls could talk: family life at the White House. Provides a look at the personal lives led by the leaders of the nation and their family inside the walls of the White House. (NoveList)

Genre Government and politics; Graphic novels; Historical comic books; History books:
Townsend, Michael (Michael Jay). Michael Townsend’s Where do presidents come from?: and other presidential stuff of super great importance. Shares wacky and engaging facts about many of our nation’s leaders, traces the history and powers of the presidency, and offers insight into the job’s daily routines, benefits, and challenges. (NoveList)

Genre Biography; Government and politics; Narrative nonfiction for kids and teens; Picture Books; Picture books for children:
Small, David. So you want to be president? Presents an assortment of facts about the qualifications and characteristics of U.S. presidents, from George Washington to Bill Clinton. (NoveList)

Genre ‘Picture books for children’ and the subject ‘Presidents’:
Jackson, Ellen B. Abe Lincoln loved animals. Provides a fascinating portrayal of the sixteenth president who found compassion for animals of all kinds, including beginning the tradition of “pardoning” a turkey that was supposed to be Christmas dinner–an act that is carried on each Thanksgiving at the White House in his honor. (NoveList)

Krull, Kathleen. A woman for president. Traces the life and accomplishments of the American suffragist who became the first successful female stockbroker and later started a newspaper and ran for president. (NoveList)

Genre Humorous stories; Picture Books; Picture books for children:
Smith, Lane. Madam President. A little girl imagines what her day would be like if she were President of the United States. (NoveList)

Genre Humorous stories:
Gephart, Donna. As if being 12 3/4 isn’t bad enough, my mother is running for president! Preparing for spelling bees, having a secret admirer, and waiting for her chest size to catch up with her enormous feet are pressure enough, but twelve-year-old Vanessa must also deal with loneliness and very real fears as her mother, Florida’s Governor,runs for President of the United States. (NoveList)

Fiction, picture books, presidential candidates, teachers:
Winters, Kay. My teacher for president. A second-grader writes a television station with reasons why his teacher would make a good president, but only if she can continue teaching till the end of the year. (NoveList)

Genre Biographies; Biography; History books:
Thimmesh, Catherine. Madam president. Provides quotations and profiles of notable political women, showing how far women have come in politics as well as how many important political contributions by women have gone unnoticed until now. (NoveList)

Genre Picture Books; Picture books for children, upbeat, attention-grabbing:
DiPucchio, Kelly. Grace for president. Grace campaigns for president of her grade, but when her competition seems to have the support of all the male voters, she must use all her campaigning skills to win them over by showing that she is the best person for the job. (NoveList)

Genre Biographies; Biography; History books; Picture Books; Picture books for children, inspirational:
Bardhan-Quallen, Sudipta. Ballots for Belva: the true story of a woman’s race for the presidency. Recounts the life and accomplishments of Belva Lockwood, the first woman to practice law before the Supreme Court and to officially run for the presidency of the United States in 1884 and 1888. (NoveList)

Fiction, novel, presidents, children:
White, Ellen Emerson. The president’s daughter. Sixteen-year-old Meghan Powers’ happy life in Massachusetts changes drastically when her mother, one of the most prestigious senators in the country, becomes the front-runner in the race for United States President. (NoveList)

Presidents, children, White House, history:
Rhatigan, Joe. White House kids. Shares the experiences of growing up in the White House, discusses the good and the bad, and profiles the children that have lived there. (NoveList)

Fiction, presidents, presidents children, school:
DeVillers, Julia. New girl in town. Nine-year-old Liberty Porter, daughter of the President of the United States, starts at a new school and tries to be an exemplary First Daughter. (NoveList)

Biographical fiction; Historical mystery stories; Mystery stories:
Kidd, Ronald. Teddy Roosevelt and the treasure of Ursa Major. President Theodore Roosevelt’s children search for clues to a hidden treasure in the White House. (NoveList)

Genre historical fiction, presidents, daughters, White House:
Bradley, Kimberly Brubaker. The president’s daughter. A fictionalized account of ten-year-old Ethel Roosevelt’s early experiences in the White House after her father, Theodore Roosevelt, becomes president in 1901. (NoveList)



Rutherford B., Who Was He? Poems about Our Presidents.
Singer, Marilyn (author).  Illustrated by John Hendrix.
Dec. 2013. 56p. Disney/Hyperion, hardcover, $17.99 (9781423171003). Grades 5-8. 811. 

REVIEW.  First published December 1, 2013 (Booklist).

This attractive collection of pithy, illustrated verse takes a new look at the 43 American presidents. Each man is represented in a poem, but some share the spotlight with others. Speech balloons from the mouths of Taylor, Fillmore, Pierce, and Buchanan are spaced on the page to create one poem, while a more typical entry profiles one president per page, and Washington garners a double-page spread of his own. The appended historical notes represent each president with a tiny portrait, a quote, and an information-packed paragraph commenting on the man and his term in office. Sometimes combining drawn and painted elements with quotes, the artwork is eclectic and expressive. Packed with facts and historical references as well as human interest elements, the rhythmic, rhyming verse may sometimes baffle elementary-school children and even older students without a solid grounding in history and politics. Creative teachers could find ways to use some selections in their classrooms. In fact, almost anyone reading the book will learn something new and find some amusement along the way.— Carolyn Phelan

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books:
Singer, Marilyn. Rutherford B., Who Was He?: Poems About Our Presidents. Illustrated by John Hendrix. December 2013

ISBN 978-1-4231-7100-3

Veteran author and poet Singer turns here to the forty-three men who have held the office of POTUS, giving each a swift, often irreverent poetic treatment. Like presidents, the verses are a varied lot: John Quincy Adams has a rollicking limerick-esque entry that notes “Folks found him a bother/ (as they did his father)”; Lincoln’s sparer stanza addresses his fame (“By stovepipe hat, beard, large size,/ he’s the one we recognize”); Nixon’s entry is one of Singer’s self-designed “reverso” poems, appropriate for setting his achievements against his ignominy. The poems often have the compactness of epitaphs but a more interesting complexity of meter and wordplay that makes them sophisticated choices for recitation or reading aloud; the literary portraits occasionally skip some key things (McKinley’s, for instance, doesn’t mention his assassination) but are more often surprisingly thorough in a few short lines. Hendrix’s visuals bring it all to life, with full-bleed mixed-media illustrations that combine the caricatured yet careful linework of political cartooning with crisply layered collagework. Quotes from the presidents become three-dimensional and intertwine with their scenes, while well-chosen details and clever approaches (Harrison and Cleveland play musical chairs, McKinley crouches in the shadow of Teddy Roosevelt) add perspective as well as amusement. This could be a springboard for performance, a way to spice up American History, or a Common Core-friendly entree into discussion about the merits of unorthodox presentation of fact. End matter includes a longer description of the office, a collection of presidential biographies, and a list of relevant books and websites.

Horn Book:
Rutherford B., Who Was He?: Poems About Our Presidents
by Marilyn Singer; illus. by John Hendrix
Primary, Intermediate    Disney-Hyperion   56 pp.
12/13    978-1-4231-7100-3    $17.99

“Who were these men / who had what it took / to be commander in chief of all the armed forces, / to suggest what to do with our country’s resources?” Forty-three presidents receive thirty-nine poems
here; Grover Cleveland gets two—one for each nonconsecutive term in office. Unlike Susan Katz’s The President’s Stuck in the Bathtub (rev. 5/12), which focused on quirky traits, this volume touches on more sophisticated subjects such as political ideology, foreign policy, and domestic programs. In a single poem Thomas Jefferson and John Adams debate their political differences. Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, and James Buchanan engage in a four-way conversation about states’ rights, while Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren examine Manifest Destiny in a two-voiced poem. (Poor old William Howard Taft, however, is still stuck in the bathtub, as his corpulence seems to override national issues.) A quote from George Washington in a bold hand-lettered font opens the book, and with the poem positioned on the facing page, readers have space to contemplate its meaning. In other cases, however, the richly colored art overwhelms the text; for example, William Henry Harrison’s poem is lost in the swirling storm that surrounds him as he delivers his inaugural address (but then again, that weather also overpowered the man, causing the pneumonia that killed him). Brief biographical notes of each president give pertinent, but abbreviated, background information; sources are included. BETTY CARTER
(January/February 2014 Horn Book Magazine)

Reprinted from The Horn Book Magazine by permission of The Horn Book, Inc., www.hbook.com

School Library Journal:
★Singer, Marilyn. Rutherford B., Who Was He?: Poems About Our Presidents. illus. by John Hendrix. 56p. notes. websites. Hyperion/Disney. 2013. RTE $17.99. ISBN 9781423171003. LC 201310690.

Gr 4 Up–In this impressive collection of poems and matching illustrations, Singer and Hendrix introduce readers to the chronological roster of U.S. presidents, from Washington through Obama. With just a few well-chosen lines, Singer limns the character and/or significance of each man, highlighting Washington’s honesty; peace-loving Woodrow Wilson, and feisty Truman: “No one was brasher/than that former haberdasher.” In her inimitable verse, she brilliantly captures Nixon’s flawed legacy: “Would people remember Watergate, nothing but Watergate?” Some presidents are treated singly; others are grouped together, such as former friends and political adversaries John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Hendrix’s pen-and-ink illustrations match Singer’s nuanced text: undersized James Madison faces down British ships standing on a soapbox, and an oversize William Howard Taft holds a rubber ducky in his custom-made bathtub. In the exaggerated style of political cartoons, they add wit and insightful detail. End materials offer more factual information including a paragraph on each president. There are many great books about U.S. presidents, and this one follows in the footsteps of Alice Provensen’s classic The Buck Stops Here (HarperCollins, 1992) and Judith St. George’s So You Want to Be President (Philomel, 2000). Most libraries will want to make room for this one; it’s a wonderful teaching tool for U.S. history and a delightful, readable book for a wide audience of browsers.–Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA



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