With the wild success of 1990’s Millie’s Book, the autobiography of the then First Dog, tomes about White House animals have become pet projects for many publishers. The Best of Show was probably Presidential Pets, stories about such companions as Teddy Roosevelt’s one-legged chicken and William Howard Taft’s cow, Pauline.
Children’s Letters to Socks, on the other hand, doesn’t win any ribbons. Although Socks is the most famous feline since Morris and may well merit his own book, this isn’t it. Little more than a novelty, Socks leaves you asking, ”So what?”
Editor Bill Adler has been compiling books of children’s letters for 40 years. (You would think these missives were culled directly from the Clintons’ litter, uh, letter box, but you would be wrong. In a disappointing contrivance, Adler just asked his kid contacts around the country to compose the notes.) His Kids’ Letters From Camp and Children’s Letters to Santa Claus were best-sellers, but at least those books had bite.
With Socks, you won’t learn anything about the kitty or the kiddies. Most of the letters pose such generic questions as ”Did you ever sleep on Lincoln’s bed?” The notes are heartfelt but ho-hum, and the young correspondents’ illustrations resemble those your child sees on the classroom wall.
The book’s mediocrity can’t be blamed on the kids, though. Perhaps if it had provided answers to some of their questions-”Do you know the First Cat of any other country”-young readers could have had a laugh and learned something.
Letters to Socks might have made an interesting magazine article, but as a book, it’s pretty much a catnap. C