Cover image for Dear Mr. Washington
Dear Mr. Washington
Cullen, Lynn, author.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, NY : Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, [2015]
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 27 cm
In April, 1796, young Charlotte Stuart writes a series of letters to George Washington, whose portrait's being painted by her father, reporting on her efforts and those of her brothers to follow the rules of good behavior in the book Mr. Washington gave them. Includes historical notes.
Reading Level:
AD 760 Lexile.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
J PIC BOOK Juvenile Current Holiday Item Holiday

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Based on the true story behind Gilbert Stuart's famous portraits of Washington, this funny historical read will leave rascals, ruffians, and troublemakers of all ages laughing. Charlotte, James, and baby John have promised to be on their very best behavior for when George Washington comes to have his portrait painted by their father, Gilbert Stuart. But, it seems like every time George Washington comes to visit, Charlotte has to write another apology letter, even when they try to follow George Washington's Rules of Good Behavior. If these whippersnappers want any dessert, they are going to have to learn some manners-and fast! What results is a hilarious chain of events, a giant messaand a painting that will be remembered for centuries to come.

Author Notes

Lynn Cullen is the author of numerous children's books and young adult novels including The Backyard Ghost, The Mightiest Heart, and I Am Rembrandt's Daughter, which was an ALA Best Book of 2008. The Creation of Eve is her first work for adults.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

When people picture George Washington, it is usually the Gilbert Stuart portrait that comes to mind (one version of which appears on the one-dollar bill). This story is loosely based on the painting of that picture and is told from the point of view of Stuart's daughter, Charlotte, who keeps up an amusing (one-way) correspondence with the president. Although Washington shows up dutifully for his portrait appointments, he clearly doesn't enjoy them, and he refuses to smile. One reason for his discomfiture is the unruly goings-on created by Charlotte and her brothers. Even Washington's hair ribbon isn't safe, so he sends the children Rules of Good Behavior for Boys and Girls. Alas, following rules isn't easy: it's hard not to show great delight in your food, or to refrain from removing fleas from yourself or a companion in public. Most of the story is imagined (the book, however, is based on a real volume, Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation), and this gives Carpenter the opportunity to have as much fun as possible with her ink-and-watercolor art. Her remarkably Stuart-like Washington beset by high jinks is classic. A different take on GW.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2014 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Imagined letters from the daughter of portrait painter Gilbert Stuart transport readers to the creation of one of the most famous paintings of the first U.S. president. Young Charlotte Stuart begins her first missive to George Washington apologizing for the chaos that she and her brothers instigated trying to get him to smile. "I'm so Sorry for what happened to your hair Ribbon," Charlotte writes. "James and I did not mean for our Cat to race up your Shoulder." Lively mixed-media illustrations show the siblings hanging from curtains, tripping over rugs, and hiding under a stern Washington's coattails (the mayhem echoes similarly rambunctious scenes that Carpenter painted for Queen Victoria's Bathing Machine). Interrupting Cullen's (Moi and Marie Antoinette) epistolary jaunt are several spreads explaining how not to behave, taken from a book the President reportedly had to copy as a child; humorous vignettes show Washington demonstrating each prohibition, e.g., "Do not Wiggle in the Sight of Others nor Gnaw your nails." An author's note includes a copy of the resultant painting and a more factual account of its rendering. Ages 5-8. Author's agent: Emma Sweeney, Emma Sweeney Agency. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 4-When President George Washington visits the home of the prominent painter Gilbert Stuart to have his portrait painted, Stuart's children, Charlotte, James, and baby John, try really hard to be good. But, try as they will, it's one disaster after another. President Washington is none too pleased and sends the children the Rules of Good Behavior for Boys and Girls. Young Charlotte feels badly about their misbehavior and writes a letter of apology to the president, imploring him to return to allow father to complete the portrait. She also urges him to smile, as it will greatly enhance the picture. Washington does indeed return, and the children are so good that they all fall asleep-including the president. Thanks to the rowdy children, this commission is difficult to complete, so their father tries to sneak future visits past them. However, the precocious youngsters always show up, full of shenanigans and good intentions. The work must be completed one way or another, but will the president ever smile? Crafted as a series of letters from Charlotte Stuart to George Washington, this picture book is funny, colorful, and full of calamitous situations. Children of all ages will find it a hoot. The artwork, created using a combination of pen on paper, acrylic paint on canvas, and digital media, is hilarious and bright, with clever attention to detail. A fabulous addition to picture book collections.-Amy Shepherd, St. Anne's Episcopal School, Middleton, DE (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.