George Washington's Teeth

written by Deborah Chandra & Madeleine Comora, pictures by Brock Cole

A rollicking rhyme portrays George Washington's lifelong struggle with bad teeth. Also includes an illustrated timeline from nonfiction sources.

Follow George Washington's dental woes as he gallops to war, crosses the Delaware, and, with only two teeth left, takes his place as leader of the country. Washington was plagued by black, rotting teeth from the time he was 22, losing about one a year until he was nearly "toofless" and had to have his first dentures made--from a hippotamus tusk. Although this story ends happily with George (cheerfully wearing new dentures) dancing through the night, it is clear from the included factual timeline that he suffered poor dental health throughout his life and chronic dental infection may have contributed to his death.

Watercolor vignettes, filled with comic exaggeration, easily keep pace with the lighthearted narrative. The pictures charmingly portray the efforts of his family and servants to help him and reinforce the belief that the stern expressions in his portraits are a result of his bad teeth.