Monday, November 03, 2008

D. C. Holiday: The Great White House Breakout by Helen Thomas

I am Sam.

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 new job.

She is President of the United States, and my dad is First Guy.

Being the First Kid in the White House has its perks, all right. Sam and his cat Warren gets to bounce on the bed in Lincoln's Bedroom, swim in the President's pool, and visit his mom in the Oval Office--the one with the cool red phone, The Button on the desk, and a wastebasket labelled POTUS. And then there is his special friend Leonard, a recently retired NASA lab rat who is the brains behind Sam's secret plan, a plan to take it on the lam and see the real Washington from the bottom up.

Constantly nannied by Secret Service agents equipped with phones in their ears and the latest electronic surveillance equipment at their disposal, Sam is a virtual prisoner in the White House compound. But the chance for the great escape comes when the Queen of England arrives for the grand tour and is escorted to the Dining Room for a festive state dinner. Leonard distracts everyone's attention by making a dash down the center of the banquet table, and amid the shrieks of the affronted guests, Sam and Warren sneak out into the streets of Washington.

At first the three escapees have a wonderful time, playing baseball all night, hanging out at the Spy Museum, watching the crowd from atop the Spirit of St. Louis in the Air and Space Museum, deciphering the handwriting in their personal copy of the Constitution, and looking for pirates in the Tidal Basin. When it grows dark and chilly, Sam, Warren, and Leonard curl up in a very big "nice man's lap" inside the Lincoln Memorial.

The next morning the newspapers' headlines scream "EXTRA! SAM STILL MISSING! NATIONAL ARCHIVES DOCUMENTS DISAPPEAR! Sam realizes that he misses his mom more than he expected, and it's up to Leonard the NASA genius to figure out a way to get Sam back to where he belongs.

Veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas takes a light-hearted look at her favorite beat in her brand-new The Great White House Breakout. Chip Bok's comic illustrations poke gentle fun at White House conventions while building a bit of sympathy for Sam, who, home at last, finally gets his greatest wish, a just-for-Sam supper of burgers and pie with his mom and dad in the newly decorated First Family Dining Room in their private living quarters.

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    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:36 PM  

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