Everybody talked about Dolley Madison.
Dolley was a farm girl who became a fine first lady when she married James Madison. She wore beautiful dresses, decorated her home, and threw lavish parties. Everyone talked about Dolley, and everyone loved her, too.
Then war arrived at her doorstep, and Dolley had to meet challenges greater than she'd ever known.
So Dolley did one thing she thought might make a difference: she saved George Washington.
When it became apparent that the invading British would overtake the White House during the War of 1812, Dolley Madison had the presence of mind to take valuable papers and the Gilbert Stuart painting of George Washington, thus preserving it for future generations. Brown begins this tale of bravery by describing Dolley as an ordinary person who had a flair for entertaining. She was the White House hostess for President Jefferson, and then for her own husband, President Madison. Brown's smooth storytelling, combined with his drawings, presents many facts about the war, the First Lady, the Founding Fathers, the importance of this particular painting, and the origins of the American National Anthem in such a way that the reader is anxious to turn the page to find out what happened next. Brown's pen and ink, watercolor, and digitally created illustrations present Dolley in her trademark turbans, show the painting in the White House, and create the atmosphere and societal effects of the war. The double-page illustration of King George squaring off with Uncle Sam brilliantly captures the main issues of the war. It lends itself nicely to discussions of what it means to be brave, women's studies, art history, and the War of 1812. It is a fine choice to introduce this time period to high school American history classes, too. An author's note and a bibliography are included in the back of this entertaining and informative picture book. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo