Tag Archives: Washington D.C.

Children’s Books by Washington Wives

It’s everywhere lately, and it’s only going to become more prominent: politics. In this big political year, the men — and women — of Washington are doing what they can to inform the people. But those people also include children. Now children’s books written by the wives of the politically powerful men in Washington, D.C. are all the rage, the newest political trend.

According to this article by The New York Times, former Vice President Joseph Biden’s wife, Jill, is publishing Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops under Simon & Schuster. The profits from her book will go toward charities for military families.

But Jill Biden isn’t the first to touch on this seemingly strange, but actually brilliant form of political campaigning. Laura Bush and Hilary Clinton have both written children’s books. So have Callista Gingrich, Lynne Cheney, and Carole Geithner, Timothy Geithner’s wife. And for that matter, it’s not just wives who are jumping on the bandwagon; it’s also daughters like Jenna Bush and Caroline Kennedy.

Most of the books have political undertones, which is why this election year, there seem to be more “Washington Wife Children’s Books” than ever. It’s all part of the process as Pamela Paul explains.

“Picture books and books for tweens are always a great way to put complex issues like politics into a context that young children can understand,” [HarperCollins Children’s Books editor-in-chief Kate Jackson] said. “They get the conversation going.” For Washington wives, writing a children’s book has become almost an expected spousal counterpart to the politician’s campaign tract or argument book. “Spouses have one mandatory obligation — ‘First Do No Harm’ — and one optional assignment: provide a positive magnifying force,” Mary Matalin, editor at large for Threshold Editions, a division of Simon & Schuster, and a former member of Dick Cheney’s staff, wrote in an e-mail. “Children’s books fulfill both.”

Not all the books are political — like Carole Geithner’s, for instance. But for those that are, it’s a smart move because it not only teaches children about politics in an understandable way; it also gives children something to talk about with their parents. And that makes those voting adults think even harder about who they’re voting for, and what those people represent.

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Review: The Lost Symbol

Recap: The Lost Symbol begins in much the same way all of Dan Brown’s books in the Robert Langdon series do: Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is abruptly interrupted to respond to a symbol emergency. In this particular novel — the third and most recent in the series — Langdon’s mentor, Peter Solomon, requests that he give a speech at the United States Capitol. So Langdon flies to Washington D.C. But he’s in for much more than he imagined. 

He soon learns he’s been tricked. In fact, Peter Solomon has no idea Langdon is in town. And as Langdon attempts to find him, he instead finds his mentor’s severed hand, lying in the middle of the Capitol Rotunda. In a moment of chaos, Langdon learns Solomon has been kidnapped by a man named Mal’akh. Mal’akh tells him the only way Solomon will be spared is if Langdon locates the Lost Word and Mason’s Pyramid.

And so begins a new symbolic saga for Langdon, who must find the Lost Word, the Mason’s Pyramid, Peter Solomon, and deal with the CIA in its attempts to find the kidnapper.

Analysis: It’s apparent that Brown uses a specific guideline for his Robert Langdon stories. They all start the same and take Robert Langdon to another city on a quest to find or decode something. Always, there is an exotic woman involved — in this case, Peter Solomon’s younger sister and brilliant scientist Katherine — and the entire long-winded story takes place in the course of an evening.

Brown not only uses similar formatting in his novels, but common themes as well: religion, symbology, ancient art, architecture, and history. The same holds true in The Lost Symbol, in which the reader is taught about the world of Freemasonry. Also included is information about the architecture in Washington D.C. and the art that adorns it. You know when you’re reading a Dan Brown novel, it’s going to be  heavy. There’s a lot for the readers to wrap their heads around. And as overwhelming and intimidating as it looks, the background information is necessary in the long run.

In The Lost Symbol, Brown also focuses a lot on character development. Learning about Katherine’s Noetic science research and the many transformations of Mal’akh are particularly fascinating.

But there’s nothing like Brown’s pacing and storytelling. The short chapters help the novel move along quickly, and the major twist toward the end is breathtaking.

MVP: Katherine Solomon. Girl power! This woman is brilliant and kicks ass. She works well with Langdon to try to uncover the Ancient Mysteries and the location of her brother. There’s an underlying tone of romance between her and Langdon, but Brown keep its realistic. But most importantly, Katherine’s emotional ties to their work –namely, trying to saving her brother’s life — makes the reader feel for Katherine and the pressure she is under.

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