Cover image for George Washington's teeth
George Washington's teeth
Chandra, Deborah.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New Rochelle, N.Y. : Spoken Arts, [2004]

Physical Description:
1 audio disc (approximately 8 min.) + 1 book (1 volumes (unpaged) :color illustrations ; 23 x 29 cm)
A rollicking rhyme portrays George Washington's lifelong struggle with bad teeth. A timeline taken from diary entries and other nonfiction sources follows.
General Note:
Compact disc.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.6 0.5 68924.

Reading Counts RC K-2 3.5 2 Quiz: 32821 Guided reading level: N.
Format :
Audiobook on CD


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
COMPDISC KIT 58 Juvenile Media Kit Media Kits
J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Childrens Area-Picture Books
COMPDISC KIT 58 Juvenile Media Kit Media Kits

On Order



A tongue-in-cheek dental history of our first President

"Poor George had two teeth in his mouth
The day the votes came in.
The people had a President,
But one afraid to grin."

From battling toothaches while fighting the British, to having rotten teeth removed by his dentists, the Father of His Country suffered all his life with tooth problems. Yet, contrary to popular belief, he never had a set of wooden teeth. Starting at the age of twenty-four, George Washington lost on average a tooth a year, and by the time he was elected President, he had only two left! In this reverentially funny tale written in verse and based on Washington's letters, diaries, and other historical records, readers will find out what really happened as they follow the trail of lost teeth to complete tooflessness .

Illustrated in watercolors with subtle humor by Brock Cole, the main story is followed by a four-page time line featuring reproduced period portraits of Washington.

George Washington's Teeth is a 2004 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

Author Notes

Deborah Chandra 's previous children's books include A Is for Amos , which Publishers Weekly called "a charmer" in a starred review. She lives in Altadena, California.

Madeleine Comora is an author and poet who lives in Glendale, California.

Brock Cole is the author and/or illustrator of many books, including the picture books Buttons , a Boston Globe - Horn Book Honor Book, and Larky Mavis . He lives in Buffalo, New York.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

K^-Gr. 3. Second only to kids' curiosity about George Washington and the cherry tree may be their interest in his teeth. Did the prez wear wooden dentures? Chandra and Comora set the record straight with wit, verve, and a generous amount of sympathy for poor Washington and his dental woes. Unfurling smoothly against a backdrop of Washington's career as soldier and president, the tale goes forward in sprightly, read-aloud rhyme that never falters: "Poor George has two teeth in his mouth / The day the votes came in. / The people had a President /But one afraid to grin." And illustrator Cole is at his absolute best here, totally at ease with human gesture and expression. Each spread is a tableaulike scene (or scenes) filled with costumed characters busily engaged in humorously visualizing the actual history. The color palette and energy of the art harks back to Cole's Buttons (1999), but there's much more detail and movement in these pictures, which work well as amusing preparation for the more sedately illustrated, annotated time line of George's dental decay that precedes a full roundup of historical sources the authors used in telling the tale. This is history for youngsters that will stick; it's wild and fun and factual, without a trace of mockery. --Stephanie Zvirin

Publisher's Weekly Review

In a clever approach to history, Chandra and Comora string together spry stanzas describing the dental difficulties that plagued George Washington. Rhyming verse explains how the general's rotten teeth gradually fall out during the Revolutionary War: "George crossed the icy Delaware/ With nine teeth in his mouth./ In that cold and pitchy dark,/ Two more teeth came out!" Cole complements this verse by rendering a sly watercolor twist on Emanuel Leutze's famous painting George Washington Crossing the Delaware, in a full-spread treatment: Washington still stands in quiet dignity, but the boatmen are grinning. By the time Washington is elected president, just two teeth remain in his mouth. Kids will love the details, such as the way Washington uses a pair of his molars to fashion a mold from which the dentist makes a set of dentures (these are carved from hippopotamus ivory, and even shown, in a photograph in the afterword). Infusing his bustling watercolor vignettes with comic hyperbole, Cole easily keeps pace with the lighthearted narrative. One especially funny image shows the president sprawled on the floor, legs in the air, after viewing a newly painted portrait ("George stood up to have a look-/ He fell back on his fanny./ `It doesn't look like me!' he roared./ `It looks like Martha's granny!' "). An annotated timeline at the end includes quotes from the leader's letters and diaries chronicling his relentless efforts to hide his dental problems and the extent to which they caused him chronic pain and embarrassment. A highly palatable historical morsel. All ages. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 5-In 28 rhymed, four-line stanzas, Chandra and Comora tell the sad story of George Washington's teeth. Beginning with the onset of the Revolutionary War, the countdown takes poor George from just about a mouthful of painful, rotten teeth to a state of complete "tooflessness"-and then to a pair of entirely successful dentures. Cole's watercolor cartoon illustrations are just right, giving comic vent to George's despair, hopelessness, fevered attempts at finding his teeth, and final triumphant, toothy strut at a ball. A beautifully illustrated four-page time line shows portraits of the dentally challenged first president and photos of his homegrown, incredibly uncomfortable-looking dentures, made of gold and hippopotamus ivory. (Contrary to legend, Washington never had wooden ones.) Given that his death was probably hastened by an untreated infection from old root fragments in his gums, this is not only a historical treatise, but also a great lesson in dental hygiene. Paired with Laurie Keller's antic Open Wide: Tooth School Inside (Holt, 1998), it could be used as a real-life example of the havoc wreaked by bad teeth. With 17 sources listed as contributing to the art and dental information on the time line, this accurate and intriguing slice of history should find a place in any elementary library collection.-Ann Welton, Grant Elementary School, Tacoma, WA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.