Patrick and the President by Ryan Tubridy and P J Lynch

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Patrick and the President by Ryan Tubridy and P J Lynch

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Category: Emerging Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A charming little read for charming little people, but will this tale of hero worship truly travel to all countries, and to this age?
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 40 Date: March 2017
Publisher: Walker Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781406366921

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Meet Patrick. Such a direction is a little facetious here, because it's who he's going to meet that's the key. He lives in New Ross, County Wexford, and his school has been chosen to perform as a choir for the much-anticipated arrival of President J F Kennedy, as the man traces the path of his Irish ancestry, in what (in addition to stop-overs in England and Italy on the same trip) was to be his last state visit abroad. But surely just being one among three hundred on such an auspicious, yet brief, occasion is not enough for such an enterprising lad? Well, no, for his connected parents have got another trick up their sleeve for him…

This is a purely fictional encounter, and I didn't quite believe Patrick's secondary status on the day, that of Swiss roll wallah, forcing him to go home from the choir, change from one suit and tie to another shirt and tie and get back to work all by himself, but that's a minor aside. The point is this is a warm story, and one based on fact – JFK really did land by helicopter where a choir of schoolchildren were singing the song this book says they sang, and really did go to his ancestral home, where someone must have been in charge of Swiss roll slicing. It's an occasion that, apparently, the people concerned with still feel greatly enamoured of to this day.

Which only made me wonder, would any such child be so impressed by the chance to meet a modern politician? Even if one were to have the movie-star looks and global rating of a Kennedy, would such hero worship be something that you could actually recommend to the extent of making a book about? I certainly don't take to hero worship myself, and I can only see the 'youth of today' being interested in giving the likes of Swiss roll to someone like Mister Dayglo-Arms himself, Ed Sheeran.

It does seem to be a purely Irish thing, although they seem to be prouder of their heritage (and are probably more justified in that) than us sniffy Brits. 2017 is the centenary of the birth of this particular scion of theirs (JFK, I mean, and not Sheeran), and to mark such a moment well-known Irish star Ryan Tubridy has adapted his adult non-fiction book into this little read. It doesn't take long to get through, even if there can be several paragraphs per spread, and it reads ideally for those picking the language out with some young confidence. The real facts (and photographic evidence) are on a separate spread at the back.

What also seemed a purely Irish thing was the voice, for reading this out loud as is my wont, meant everyone turned into Mrs Brown cast members, which probably was most unfortunate. There is a definite honest, affectionate lilt to all the characters, even down to the honorific Himself given to Kennedy. Which rankled with me a little, not because Himself will always be Mister Marian Keyes to me, but because it's given a capital letter, and nowhere in the story (yet annoyingly so on the binding) does the president get to be a President.

Finally the artwork has to be mentioned, for P J Lynch does sterling work, especially with faces, whether Presidential or childlike and wondrous. This is a lovely format for the art to shine, but beyond that instant appeal I did have to wonder (a) if we should be so concerned with historical celebrity worship, of a kind, and (b) if this book has the power to travel as far as, say, the Kennedys themselves did. I found little to fault, so I hope in a way it does, but I can't see it being universally appealing.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

A Day That Changed History: The Assassination of John F Kennedy by Tracey Kelly is the sad conclusion to the whole story for the young audience.

Buy Patrick and the President by Ryan Tubridy and P J Lynch at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Patrick and the President by Ryan Tubridy and P J Lynch at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Patrick and the President by Ryan Tubridy and P J Lynch at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Patrick and the President by Ryan Tubridy and P J Lynch at Amazon.com.

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