Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Historical Fiction
“The President Has Been Shot!”: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy

“The President Has Been Shot!”: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy

Fall 2013 Historical Fiction
Ages: 12 & Up
Author: James Swanson
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN: 9780545490078
Hardcover Price: $18.99

With 2013 being the 50th Anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination, a surge of on-topic books have been published, fiction and nonfiction, about the presidency and the assassination of John F. Kennedy. This one targets younger readers-a generation born four decades since that fateful day in Dallas in 1963. With that time-line gap in mind, the author wisely doesn't go straight to the months and events leading up to the assassination. Instead, Swanson begins the book reviewing, chapter by chapter, topics such as Kennedy's early years, working in Congress and then the 1960 presidential election, the Bay of Pigs debacle and the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Space Race, the Berlin visit, Civil Rights and The Kennedy Mystique," to set the stage for young readers.

A wealth of black and white photographs and diagrams punctuate the narrative, historic photos ranging from JFK and Jacqueline Kennedy with baby Caroline in 1960 and aerial shots of the Russian missiles uncovered in Cuba in 1962, to the well-known backyard photo of Lee Harvey Oswald with his rifle, a diagram of Oswald's escape from the Book Depository in Dallas, and an entire section about the post-assassination days and the grief-stricken nation in the aftermath. The entire book is vividly visual and the storytelling is steady without thriller theatrics.

The author of award-winning young adult novel Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer, Swanson tells the story of one of America's darkest moments with slightly more urgency than a textbook. He avoids conspiracy theories ("conspiracy" isn't even in the index) and, instead, his narrative remains mostly true to the reporting and, at times, graphic details surrounding an event that changed America forever.

Don Oldenburg   ©2013 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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