Getting to Know the U. S. Presidents: John Adams, Second President.

DVD. approx. 16 min. (closed captioned), Gelling to Know. 2007. $59.95. Gr 1-5
Based on the book written and illustrated by Mike Venezia (Children’s Press, 2001), this DVD uses a similar lighthearted approach to present the life of our second president, a man whose courage and intelligence helped lead the colonies to independence. A cartoon figure representing John Adams narrates, describing his childhood on the family farm in Quincy Massachusetts, his somewhat rocky educational path to Harvard at the age of 16, and his rise to fame as a lawyer. While not always popular, Adams was respected for his intelligence and courage; his decision to defend the British soldiers who were involved in the Boston Massacre illustrates his willingness to risk popularity for the sake of what he believed was right.

This founding father’s strengths and weaknesses are objectively presented, and he explains in kid-friendly terms how he gained the admiration and trust of the new nation as their first vice president, and lost it during his presidency with decisions like the Sedition Act, which outlawed criticism of the government, Humorous animation is juxtaposed with line­ art and historical images that help to place the facts in historical perspective. Adams’s life and this tumultuous period of history is related in easily understood terms, with an occasional pun and gag tossed in to main­tain viewer interest.

While this is not an in­ depth biography and at times it isn’t entirely historically accurate (rolls of toilet paper are shown being stamped as taxable under the Stamp Act), it does provide an entertaining look at the life and times of John Adams.-MaryAnn Karre.Horace Mann Elementary School, Binghamton, NY