Patrick and the President, by Ryan Tubridy, illustrated by P.J. Lynch; Candlewick Press, $16.99, 48 pages, ages 6-9.
On June 26, 1963, Air Force One touched town at Dublin Airport, shepherding America’s first Irish Catholic president to his ancestral island home. Irish television and radio broadcaster Ryan Tubridy has written about Kennedy before; his 2011 JFK in Ireland explores the president’s trip to the Emerald Isle, and here imagines that same visit through the eager eyes of a young boy named Patrick, who, along with his fellow Wexford classmates, has been chosen to welcome the president and sing in his honor. Uplifting and bursting with joy, the narrative is, at times, clunky, but is saved (perhaps even overshadowed) by the stunning golden-hued lifelike watercolors by two-time Kate Greenaway Medal winner and 2016 Irish children’s laureate P.J. Lynch (The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower). The illustrations are, quite simply, magnificent. Portraits of the president and his megawatt smile nearly pass for photorealism, while the ruddy-cheeked children possess a similar verve as those found in paintings by Norman Rockwell. A four-day chronology of the actual itinerary offers further details as well, the whole a touching tribute to Kennedy.