Election, Part II

History and Humor of Getting Elected in the United States

The following selections were gleaned from the rich literature resources found at CLCD and reflect the humor of elections and the elected, as well as some of the changes in the history of elections and voting in the United States.

Using CLCD made it easy for me to build this list, restricting my searches to those books published since the last election (parameter setting: titles from 2008 through the present). Also, I was able to search for specific ages and particular subjects (ex: election humor). Take the free trial and discover for yourself the power of the database. CLCD will aid teachers, librarians, parents, and others who work with children and young adults. I know that I find it invaluable when I need to have access to vast amounts of information about literature.

Contributor: Emily Griffin


Bad Kitty for President
Nick Bruel

Old Kitty has served two terms as President of the Neighborhood Cat Club. Frustrated at all of the stray cats invading the neighborhood, Kitty decides to run for President. However, Kitty does not follow advice and alienates everyone by misbehaving while campaigning. This very funny book is a great way for young readers to learn about the process of electing a president. Through humorous text and cartoon like illustrations, key elements are explained. Readers will learn about primaries, caucuses, campaign ads, debates, and voting. When Kitty’s campaign is just too dirty, Edna Prunelove steps in with a sweet puppy story to protect innocent readers from inappropriate material. Uncle Murray appears occasionally with lists of fun facts about elections. Chatty Kitty informs the reader of interesting presidential cat trivia. The black and white illustrations enable the reader to focus on Kitty’s crazy expressions providing a delightful lesson about the political system for young people. The glossary provides witty definitions of political terms. 2012, Roaring Brook Press/Holtzbrinck, Ages 5 to 9, $13.99. Reviewer: Shirley Nelson (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781596436695

Ballots for Belva: The True Story of a Woman’s Race for the Presidency
Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
Illustrated by Courtney A. Martin

Belva Lockwood believed in “will-power and mental effort, combined with indefatigable labor” to combat nineteenth century sexism. Wanting to attend law school, she remained undaunted despite rejections from universities fearing she would “distract the attention of the young men.” Denied her diploma, she complained directly to National University Law School President Ulysses S. Grant (who at the time also happened to be the President of the United States). And she ran legally for U.S. president at a time when women were still denied the vote. Though she had her detractors, others supported her, and the Washington Evening Star wrote that “Mrs. Lockwood, if elected, will have a policy [which] will commend itself to all people of common sense.” Young readers will cheer Belva’s can-do spirit while being astounded (and probably outraged) by the obstacles in her path, including men who dressed as women to mock her and vote counters who threw away her votes. Courtney Martin’s artwork depicts intriguing period details (Belva commuting on a large tricycle, for example) and portrays Belva as a strong-bodied woman with determined eyes. 2008, Abrams, Ages 4 to 8, $16.95. Reviewer: Mary Quattlebaum (Children’s Literature).)

ISBN: 9780810971103

Eyewitness Vote
Philip Steele

The team at DK Publishing has, yet again, put together an expansive look at a single subject which encompasses a wide range of ideas relating to the general topic. This title is packaged with a CD of “clip art” comprised of captioned photos/illustrations of the history of voting (and other aspects of democracy) and a large, folded poster which states “The vote is key to any democratic system of government.” Both of these materials will prove very helpful to instructors and students. In the usual style of the Eyewitness books, the reader is treated to a dense accumulation of facts and historical notes, illustrated with real photos and reproductions of historical memorabilia, such as statuary, art, newspapers, maps, flags, clothing, and artifacts, as well as graphs and diagrams. The layout is packed with information, but is not distractingly cluttered for those accustomed to the DK “look.” Covering everything from the earliest traditions for the expression of people’s preferences in leadership to our current systems of voting not only in the U.S. but around the world, this title fills the bill. Readers are stimulated to examine how and why people vote as well as the privilege and responsibility of exercising “the vote.” Examining the history of elections requires examining history in general, so this is a volume rich in details about how we arrived at our present system of elections. Few people will read this from cover to cover; many will approach this information-filled volume with an eye for “sampling” here and there. Tucked in with the facts and history are wonderfully interesting quotes and tidbits to whet the reader’s interest in this fascinating subject. 2008, DK Publishing, Ages 10 up, $15.99. Reviewer: Sheilah Egan (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780756633813

Fake Mustache: Or, How Jodie O’Rodeo and Her Wonder Horse (and Some Nerdy Guy) Saved the U.S. Presidential Election from a Mad Genius Criminal Mastermind
Tom Angleberger

Set in the town of Hairsprinkle, U.S.A., this hilarious, ridiculous, and entertaining tale will make you suspicious of short men in handlebar mustaches and an admirer of sticky, stretchy, grabber hands. When Lenny Flem, Jr., and Casper Bengue shop at Sven’s Fair Price Store they not only spend all $400 of Casper’s birthday money from his grandmother on a man-about-town suit complemented by a Heidelberg Handlebar Mustache #7, but they also buy more mystery and trouble than either of them anticipated. Coincidentally, after Casper dons his suit and faux facial hair, robberies break out all over town. Lenny finds himself in a quandary when Casper (a.k.a. Fako Mustacho) accuses him of the crimes. Even more formidable, Lenny must find a way to overthrow the unjust election of Fako for President of the United States. With the help of has-been television star, Jodie O’Rodeo, and sticky-hand inventor, Hank Heidelberg, all is not lost. Thanks to the outrageous events, the courageous heroine, Jodie O’Rodeo, helps Lenny win the day, returning her to stardom. All sixty-four very short chapters are filled with lively illustrations and an action-packed plot. 2012, Amulet Books/Abrams, Ages 8 to 12, $13.95. Reviewer: Krisan Murphy (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781419701948

Having Fun at the White House
Marge Kennedy

This title explores the many ways Presidents and their families have been entertained at the White House. With pictures and easy text, the reader is shown activities both inside and outside including bowling with President Nixon and riding ponies with Caroline Kennedy. The book also shows activities the White House sponsors for children from across the United States. It has age-appropriate vocabulary. This is an interesting book that my first graders enjoyed. It will make a good addition to a classroom library. 2009, Children’s Press, Ages 6 to 8, $20.00. Reviewer: Wilma Lee (The Lorgnette–Heart of Texas Reviews (Vol. 22, No. 2)).

ISBN: 9780531210956

How Not to Run for President
Catherine Clark

With the upcoming election, this book might be a fun way to introduce some of the perils of politics to students. Aidan Schroeckenbauer is an ordinary twelve-year-old, until presidential candidate Bettina Brandon visits his town and he is caught on camera trying to save her from a falling sign. Next thing Aidan knows, he is on the campaign trail with Bettina. While Aidan isn’t sure of his role in the campaign, he can’t seem to keep from messing up. However, he steps up to the challenge and finds a way to make things work for everyone. The premise behind this book is good, if a little far-fetched. It is a great introduction to the perils of being a public figure, and it would be a fun addition to your collection. 2012, Egmont, Ages 8 to 11, $15.99. Reviewer: Lynn Christiansen (Library Media Connection, March/April 2012).

ISBN: 9781606841013

If I Were the President
Thomas Kingsley Troupe
Illustrated by Heather Heyworth

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” This series for younger readers urges them to “Dream Big!” when answering that frequently asked question. Four glamorous careers are chosen for consideration, focusing mainly on the fun parts, while leaving the more sober details for an afterword. Well, why not? Kids will enjoy romping through an exciting array of experiences, in this volume imagining themselves as President of the United States. (Adults can chuckle at this one, too, as they watch a serious but confident boy president who just happens to be skinny, long-legged, and have ears that stick out.) Enjoying every moment, the President surveys a lavish breakfast at the White House, splashes with his dog in the presidential fountain (wearing his impeccable black suit), signs bills at his Oval Office desk, and rides in Cadillac One accompanied by his towering Secret Service agents in shades. One of the best spreads shows the tuxedoed president entertaining celebrities at dinner in the White House, where they would “eat the most delicious food”–as he nonchalantly twirls spaghetti on his fork. Of course, such a charming and self-possessed statesman would love his “very important job as the president of the United States.” Dream big! Each colorful oversized volume includes a “How do you get to be . . .” page, a helpful glossary, and a list of several related books. 2010, Picture Window/Capstone, Ages 5 to 8, $25.32. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781404857124

Jacob Wonderbar for President of the Universe
Nathan Bransford
Illustrated by C.S. Jennings

The king has asked Jacob (now in seventh grade) to be a candidate for President of the Universe. Jacob and his loyal friends, Sarah and Dexter, board Lucy, the spaceship they befriended during their first trip to outer space. They are space-jacked before they reach their first destination and Dexter is kidnapped by monkeys. Jacob continues on to meet the deadline for announcing his candidacy. He discovers that his opponent for the office is the son of the king, Mick Cracken. Mick’s sister, Princess Catalina, announces that she is Jacob’s running mate while Sarah agrees to be on Mick’s ticket for vice-president. Dexter, in the meantime, has befriended his monkey captors and they become allies. Astrals are suspicious of Earthers like Jacob, and his campaign offering honesty and kindness in government seems doomed compared to Mick’s campaign based unabashedly in dishonesty and dirty tricks. The parody of elections in the U.S. is both humorous and tragic as it mocks situations that sometimes seem way too familiar. The black and white cartoonish illustrations contribute to the zaniness of the plot. A fun read during an election year. 2012, Dial Books for Young Readers/Penguin Group, Ages 8 to 12, $15.99. Reviewer: Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D. (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780803735385

Lincoln Tells a Joke: How Laughter Saved the President (and the Country)
Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer
Illustrated by Stacy Innerst

This innovative picture-book biography of the sixteenth president presents Lincoln’s life and legacy through the unusual lens of laughter, focusing on Lincoln’s sense of humor as both a coping mechanism in a life haunted by hardship and a political tool to win elections and then to govern a tragically divided nation. Young Abe would stand on a tree stump and read aloud to his friends from Quinn’s Jests; as a member of the Illinois House of Representatives, Lincoln reportedly “kept the House in a continuous roar of merriment;” as president, he kept a book of jokes in his White House desk drawer and dazzled guests with his sometimes ribald “leetle stories.” Assassinated during the performance of a comic play, “It’s possible that Lincoln was laughing even in the final moments of his life.” Replete with a generous selection of Lincoln’s trademark quips, Krull and Brewer’s text is a delightful glimpse at a lesser-known side of a president often associated only with wartime melancholy. Innerst’s illustrations are a humorous match, witty in their own right, and contributing to an all-around engaging package. 2010, Harcourt, Ages 6 to 10, $17.00. Reviewer: Claudia Mills, Ph.D. (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780152066390

Lives of the Presidents: Fame, Shame, and What the Neighbors Thought
Kathleen Krull
Illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt

The talented team of Krull and Hewitt continue their biographical collaboration with this survey of American presidents. Originally published in 1998, the book has now been updated to include George W. Bush and Barack Obama. As is the creators’ wont, the effort is light on policy and heavy on idiosyncrasies. For example, it is fun to know that President Obama loves to eat hot dogs at Ben’s Chili Bowl in D.C. And while it has become obvious that Barack Obama loves basketball, who knew that his secret dream was to play professionally? On the other hand, it was equally obvious that George W. Bush loved baseball, but who knew he was the first president to have played Little League–and as a catcher! Probably due to space considerations the emphasis is on big name and recent presidents, but one longs for more extensive coverage of really interesting individuals such as John Quincy Adams. The book still makes for entertaining reading and should whet elementary students’ appetites for further research. 2010, Harcourt Children’s Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Ages 8 to 12, $21.00. Reviewer: Kathleen Karr (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780547498096

Marching for Freedom: Walk Together, Children, and Don’t You Grow Weary
Elizabeth Partridge

In Partridge’s “Author’s Note,” she describes seeing photographs from a civil rights march to Montgomery, feeling driven to learn more about this event, and becoming completely enthralled by it. The book she has created produces this same effect. For five days in March of 1965, marchers walked from Selma, Alabama to the state capital in Montgomery to protest the outrageous actions of the state and local governments in keeping blacks from voting. The number of marchers swelled to more than 30,000 when they reached Montgomery and included people of many races and of all ages, from children who had already been beaten and jailed to an eighty-five-year-old man who had lost his grandson in the struggle for Civil Rights. Martin Luther King, Jr. led the march until he was called away; he rejoined it later alongside Coretta Scott King and Rosa Parks. They were rewarded by the passage of the Voting Rights Act just five months later. This book brings honor to those involved with the march. To make the fascinating tale of the march and the events leading up to it even more gripping, Partridge focuses on the children and students who made it possible. Their courage and determination shine from every page and in every picture. In the face of incredible violence and discrimination, they stood firm in their principles of nonviolence. The photographs that originally captured Partridge’s attention are the perfect complement to her words. She includes quotes from interviews she conducted with march participants, as well as song lyrics that practically sing themselves off the page. She also gives extensive sources and suggestions for further reading, and her website includes audio files (past and present), videos of current events, and curriculum ideas for those hungry to learn more. 2009, Viking/Penguin, Ages 10 up , $19.99. Reviewer: Jennifer Lehmann (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780670011896

Mr. President Goes to School
Rick Walton
Illustrated by Brad Sneed

Gophers in the White House garden and prime ministers at one another’s throats–what’s a president to do? In this hilarious look at problem solving, Mr. President (of the United States) dons a Groucho Marx disguise and sneaks away to a place where life seemed a whole lot simpler. In Mrs. Appletree’s classroom, he finger paints, makes new friends, takes a nap and does the hokey pokey. And when he returns to his work-a-day world, Mr. President puts to use all the important life lessons he just learned in school. Soon the feuding heads of state are sitting crisscross applesauce, talking out their differences and solidifying their friendly exchange by doing the hokey pokey, which truly shakes them out of their cantankerous, me vs. him mindset. This wise, funny tale, with its warm-toned pictures, deals humorously with school issues such as working through conflict and taking turns. It is sure to spark spirited discussion, laughs and exuberant rounds of hokey pokey in classrooms across the country. 2010, Peachtree, Ages 3 to 7, $15.95. Reviewer: Mary Quattlebaum (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781561455386

President Pennybaker
Kate Feiffer
Illustrated by Diane Goode

When his father issues an especially undeserved edict, Luke Pennybaker exclaims the universal cry of children everywhere: “It’s not fair!” Not satisfied with just complaining, Pennybaker decides to do something about it. So, he runs for President of the United States on a platform that promises pets for all children, dessert any time of day, optional homework, and most importantly, to make life fair. With his dog Lily as a running mate, Luke heads out on the campaign trail, and the promises continue to grow. The retro style of clothes, cars, and telephones in Goode’s illustrations give the story an old-time feel. Her whimsical watercolors energize this timely tale of a grassroots movement and the democratic process. Children will laugh at the idea of an orange White House, as well as the other ridiculous promises made by Pennybaker, but teachers can use the silly story as a springboard for more serious discussion about the election process. Pair this with Cronin’s Duck for President for a fun November story time. 2008, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, Ages 4 to 7, $16.99..Reviewer: Heather Christensen (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781416913542

The President’s Stuck in the Bathtub: Poems about the Presidents
Susan Katz
Illustrated by Robert Neubecker

Susan Katz has turned amusing facts about American Presidents into rhyme. She begins with the fact that George Washington never slept in the White House–although he designed it, the building was not finished until John Adam’s term. As for John Adams, we learn he was called “His Rotundity” instead of the title of His Majesty which he advocated should be used for the President. Most of the Presidents through Woodrow Wilson are included-he is the one who kept sheep on the White House Lawn as part of the WWI home front efforts. The title of each poem fits the topic and is followed by the president’s name and their dates as president; each verse is followed by a short factual note. Neubecker’s good humored illustrations complement the light hearted tone of the text. All in all, middle schoolers introduced to this book are likely to decide history isn’t all dry as dust. 2011, Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Ages 8 to 12, $17.99. Reviewer: Mary Hynes-Berry (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780547182216

Scholastic Encyclopedia of the Presidents and Their Times
David Rubel

With a foreword by James M. McPherson, this title is, indeed, encyclopedic in its approach to every aspect of the presidency of the United States. The first section discusses the beginning of the nation and the election of George Washington as the first U.S. president. Each president is shown in a reproduction of a painted portrait or a photograph along with an inset giving basic information as to birth date and place, death, party, vice president, first lady, children, nickname, and some historical note (e.g., John Adams was the first president to live in the White House). Then each president’s place in history is given several pages, which include a variety of important events that occurred during that administration. Maps are generously interspersed with the text and other pictures of historical memorabilia. These maps reflect the composition of the U.S. at the time of each president. The opening material explains how each entry is set up and how to interpret the information. “Presidential Election Results” is a section in the back matter that shows election dates, candidates, winners, and electoral votes. There is also “A History of the White House” with lots of pictures showing the White House through the years. The index is quite detailed. Teachers and students alike will welcome access to this comprehensive examination of the U.S. presidents. Current to Barack Obama–2009-2013. 2009 (orig. 1994), Scholastic, Ages 9 up, $21.99. Reviewer: Sheilah Egan (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780545101493

The Taxing Case of the Cows: A True Story about Suffrage
Iris Van Rynbach and Pegi Deitz Shea
Illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully

In 1869, the town leaders of Glastonbury, Connecticut taxed only the property of single female landowners, and it required them to pay the whole amount they owed immediately. The two unmarried Smith sisters jointly owned a farm, and they decided to fight the tax by not paying. They said it was “taxation without representation,” which “is what drove the American colonies to rebel against England in 1776.” They attended town meetings to air their complaints, but they were often not allowed to speak. So, Abby spoke about their complaint from an ox cart on the town green. When a new tax collector took their cows in payment and set about auctioning them off, the sisters found that many of the townsfolk supported their cause. Then a neighbor, who wanted some of their land, got the leaders to take “temporary ownership.” At auction, he paid less than the land was worth. The sisters went to court and won their case on final appeal. The sisters continued to petition the Connecticut state legislature for the right to vote. They toured America giving speeches and writing about women’s right to vote. “The sisters did not live to see it, but they played a part in making it happen.” Women received the vote in 1920. The water colored, pen-and-ink drawings show the two ladies and their cows with humor. Readers will learn about and enjoy this slice of American history. 2010, Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Ages 6 to 9, $16.99. Reviewers: Carlee Hallman (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780547505848

What Does the President Do?
David J. Jakubiak

From George Washington and Abraham Lincoln to George W. Bush and Barack Obama, a talented group of people has headed the executive branch. Readers will learn just what the duties of the American head of state are, and will become inspired by this very unique position. This is part of the “How Our Government Works,” series. (Provided by the publisher) The series will work best where the branches of government are included in the curriculum. They present enough about the various jobs to be interesting but not enough to overwhelm young learners. 2010, PowerKids Press/Rosen Publishing, Ages 8 to 10, $8.25.Reviewer: Library Media Connection.

ISBN: 9781435893573

What Does the President Look Like?
Jane Hampton Cook
Illustrated by Adam Ziskie

Before photography and television, the only way people knew what the President of the United States looked like was from a drawing or painting. George Washington, the first President of the United States, was painted in 1795. Hearing about the painting, many people were curious and asked to see it. In 1796, the painting was hung in Philadelphia’s City Hall for all of the public to view. Presidents were also illustrated in political cartoons in newspapers, allowing more of the public to see what they looked like. The first political cartoon was made in 1789. Following the advent of political cartoons, candidates were drawn on posters. The first election posters were printed in 1844. In 1846, the first photograph of a president (James Polk) was taken. Abraham Lincoln believed that having a photograph of himself looking like a normal person helped him win the election. By using a stereograph and special 3-D glasses, in 1886, one could view President Grover Cleveland and his wife. This interesting book takes a person from 1795 through 2011 and explains the different methods by which a person could see a visual depiction of a President of the United States. Fascinating facts about past presidents are mentioned on each page. The illustrations are intriguing and clear. Three children of different races are shown on each page. The font is clear and easy to read. The text and illustrations are intertwined nicely. At the back of the book is a two-page spread of illustrations of each president, as well as a listing of presidential libraries and museums as well as additional resources. This picture book would make a nice addition in an elementary social studies class as well as a good reference in an elementary school library. 2011, Kane Miller/EDC Publishing, Ages 4 to 6, $16.99. Reviewer: Cheryl Williams Chang (Children’s Literature)

ISBN: 9781935279631

Women Win the Vote: The Hard-Fought Battle for Women’s Suffrage
Larry A. Van Meter

This slim volume documents in narrative fashion the struggle to gain women’s right to vote in the United States. The story is told through the lives of women who played major roles in moving this battle forward, from Abigail Adams (who reminded her husband John to “remember the ladies” in the drafting of the Declaration of Independence) to Alice Paul (founder of the Congressional Union, who was finally able to get a suffrage amendment before Congress in 1914). This story is certainly about getting the right to vote for women, but is also an essential part of the story about the end of slavery, as the supporters of women’s suffrage were some of the most influential advocates for abolition in the U.S. and abroad. How bitterly ironic then that Congress passed the 15th amendment, giving African American men the right to vote, fifty years before that right was granted to women. Additionally, the suffrage movement had strong connections to expanding educational access for women in this country, to the Temperance movement, and to women’s rights efforts in Europe. Along the way, the suffragettes were opposed by women in the elite classes who did not want their positions of privilege threatened, by the well-funded alcohol interests who saw the empowerment of women as a threat to legal drinking, and even by President Woodrow Wilson, although he later changed his position. This entry in the “America’s Living History” series is well-illustrated with photos of key players (e.g., Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stoner), as well as reproductions of primary materials (e.g., petitions, brochures). Source notes, a chronology, a list of book and Internet sources, and an index all add value to this work. This would be a solid addition to any school or classroom library, as well as a great resource for informing adult second language learners about this critical political evolution in America. 2009, Enslow Publishers, Ages 10 to 15, $31.93. Reviewer: Paula McMillen, Ph.D. (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780766029408

Woodrow for President: A Tail of Voting, Campaigns, and Elections
Peter W. Barnes

The third in the “Mouse” series designed “to teach children about history and government,” this edition follows Woodrow G. Washingtail as he seeks election to the office of President of the U.S. Following a short biography of the amazing Woodrow, the rhyming text relates the processes by which a candidate organizes a campaign, represents a political party, debates opponents, attends the convention, travels the country campaigning and becomes elected to office all accompanied by a myriad of folky, cartoon-like illustrations. There is a lot of text for the target audience, but it is a complicated process to explain to youngsters. Perhaps, the combination of the rhyming text and the cute illustrations will keep their attention. There are pages of resources for parents and teachers to make sure they understand the election process plus a contract for children and their parents to sign promising their participation in the affairs of their community and nation. The book is timely since a president will be elected this year. Guided Reading level N. 2012, Regnery Publishing, Ages 8 to 10, $16.95. Reviewer: Meredith Kiger, Ph.D. (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781596987869

Updated 10/1/12

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