What makes this book interesting? First, Julia Bond's illustration style. I enjoyed her impressionistic 'just enough' drawings handle the human figures. She spends more effort on creating a scene, a composition. Transparent watercolors help her control the way my eyes move by keeping the darker areas on the page to a minimum--these guide the eyes to the lines of the composition instead of just to human figures.
Second, 'a slice'. Just the history of the construction
of the White House, with 2-3 pages of back matter to extend the topic. The way the story dovetails with George Washington's life gives a hint of biography to the book, but not so much that it goes all the way there.
Third, Slade's use of the House Jack Built cumulative nursery rhyme was done extremely well. Slade's sense of prosody was right on, which can be the most difficult thing about using an existing pattern.
Sources: Slade acknowledges William Seale's personal communication in the front matter, and again for his books in the back matter. The resources to learn more section gives just enough. Slade leans heavily on Seale's work, and it would be nice to be led out to a few other sources beyond his whitehousehistory.org. Granted, this site is excellent for its use of primary sources and guidance on research--it may be the best portal Slade could have offered for extending research.
But what if people go to the Internet first (which is likely)? It feels like editors and authors of informational text are under the assumption that research will begin with their book and move outward. Very bibliocentric. What should a book be like if inquiry starts with a fairly thorough search of the internet, including the site she suggests, and then
moves to a book? How can an informational book add an experience that would augment what happens with readers on the net? The question of correspondence, complementing, or contradicting text becomes fascinating when we consider a book as only part of a broader inquiry. To what extent does the book mirror what is already given in other sources, to what extent does its experience complement, and in what ways does it provide a contradictory or counterpoint narrative? My points 1 and 3 above argue for complementary, with a holistic experience I didn't find on the web.