“Grace for President” By Kelly DiPucchio
Illustrated by LeUyen Pham For ages 5–8
When Grace's teacher unrolls a large poster of the American Presidents, Grace is shocked to learn that there are no girls on it. After sitting and thinking at her desk, Grace finally makes the announcement that she will one day be president. This spurs her teacher to organize an election. Each student in her class represents a state and can cast the allotted number of electoral votes for that state. Grace's opponent turns out to be a very smart and popular boy who has shrewdly studied the electoral map and knows that boys hold a higher vote total. Then the campaign begins and Grace pulls out all the stops. She gives stump speeches, hands out cupcakes and even begins fulfilling campaign promises before the election. Does it all pay off? You'll have to read the book to find out.
Since this book is about politics you might wonder about agendas or bias. I'm sure you can find some if you look. Maybe it's the name of the elementary school – Woodrow Wilson Elementary, the fact that it's a popular white boy running against an African American girl, or possibly that the book only discusses the electoral college and not the popular vote. It's sad that we adults think in those terms. We end up missing the real take away from the story. If you believe in yourself, don't take anything for granted, don't expect anything to be given to you, and work hard for what you want, you can accomplish anything in the United States of America.
“Amelia Bedelia's First Vote”
By Herman Parish Illustrated by Lynne Avril
For ages 4–8 Every day at school is an adventure. When you add in a lesson on voting things can get exciting. And when Amelia Bedelia is in the mix, silly and unpredictable become the best descriptors.
The excitement of voting day is a little much for Amelia. When asked to deliver a note to the principal, Amelia runs through the halls and crashes into him. While in the nurse's office she has a great idea. The principal should let the students vote on the school's rules. Her class spends an entire period coming up with suggestions, including: ice cream sandwiches for lunch, a class trip to the circus, a fish tank in every room and homework-free Wednesdays. That last one was Amelia's suggestion.
Thanks to a sick student we learn about voting, absentee ballots and the “swing vote.” Since Amelia takes everything at face value discussions of run-offs and swing votes conjure up plenty of humor and fun for young readers in this nice introduction to voting.
“Madam President” By Lane Smith
For ages 5–10 Text and visual comedy marry to deliver a steady dose of political satire even young elementary school children will enjoy in Lane Smith's “Madame President.”
Katy explains the ins and outs of being the president with refreshing candor and behaves as if she is not going to become the president, but already is the president. At one point she attends the “state funeral” of a pet frog and turns an oral report into a press conference. There is a great deal of humorous attitude flying around as Katy vetoes tuna casserole. One bit that stuck with me was the lyrics for “Hail to the Chief.” I love when they praise “her rad administration.”
Not unlike Smith's “John, Paul, George and Ben,” this tale knows how to have fun politics. So much so that will make members of both major parties laugh… and their children, too.
McGeath Freeman is a regular columnist for Lowcountry Parent. Address comments, questions or book suggestions to email@example.com.
To see past reviews and more on children's literature visit McGeath Freeman at www.chapteronereviews.blogspot.com.