Reviews for So You Want to be President

by David Small

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Just in time for the presidential election, St. George (In the Line of Fire: Presidents Lives at Stake, 1999, etc.) uses the experiences of our 42 presidents to counsel youngsters harboring that uniquely American desire—to be president. Reflecting on the "good things about being President and . . . bad things about being President . . ." she offers a pleasingly diverse slate of facts and figures for her readers' consideration: age (the oldest—Reagan; the youngest—Teddy Roosevelt), size (the smallest—Madison—at 100 lbs., contrasting with Taft, at over 300), career choices (generals, lawyers, haberdashers, farmers), first names (six Jameses, four Johns, four Williams, two Georges, two Franklins), education (nine presidents never went to college, while one—Andrew Johnson—"didn't learn to write until after he was married"). At the close of this sometimes wry, sometimes sober survey (including impeachments, wars, and assassinations), St. George encourages: "If you want to be president—a good president—pattern yourself after the best . . . [those who] have asked more of themselves than they thought they could give . . . They [who] have had the courage, spirit, and will to do . . . [what's] right." Small's (The Huckabuck Family, 1999, etc.) pitch-perfect caricatures, rendered in a mix of watercolor, ink, and pastel, expand on the personalities and support the narrative's shifting moods. There's a helpful key to every illustration and a presidential chronology from Washington to Clinton. Even a few "non-presidents" are featured: Pat Nixon and Henry Kissinger watch (with future President Ford) President Nixon bowl in the White House lanes, and there's a wonderfully wry glimpse of two "also-ran's"—Jesse Jackson and Geraldine Ferraro—excluded from an across-the-centuries presidential reception by a velvet rope. A superb, kid-centered survey and a perfect way to enliven the perennial class unit on the presidents. (Nonfiction. 7-12) Copyright ŠKirkus Reviews, used with permission.

School Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

This Caldecott Medal winner features humorous facts about U.S. presidents with a viewpoint especially interesting to children. Droll, cartoon-style illustrations extend the text and provide intriguing presidential caricatures. Difficult issues are presented in age-appropriate fashion. Channing's reading enhances the humor and the background music includes variations of "Hail to the Chief" and other patriotic songs that lend an energetic air to the narration. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 4-8-Curious tidbits of personal information and national history combine with humorously drawn caricatures to give this tongue-in-cheek picture book a quirky appeal. "There are good things about being President and there are bad things about being President." So begins a walk through a brief history of facts, successes, oddities, and mishaps. For example, most readers won't know that William Howard Taft weighed over 300 pounds and ordered a specially made bathtub. Small's drawing of a naked Taft being lowered into a water-filled tub by means of a crane should help them remember. Another spread depicts a men's shop where Andrew Johnson (a tailor) fits Ronald Reagan (an actor) for a suit while Harry Truman (a haberdasher) stands behind the counter. While the text exposes the human side of the individuals, the office of the presidency is ultimately treated with respect and dignity. A list of presidents with terms of office, birthplace, date of birth and death, and a one-sentence summary of their accomplishments is provided. This title will add spark to any study of this popular subject.-Alicia Eames, New York City Public Schools (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Horn Book
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

The presidential faces on Mount Rushmore are depicted in a jovial cartoon style on the cover--an encouraging invitation to the witty observations within. Arranging historical tidbits in an attractive buffet, this well-timed book offers anecdotes both cautionary and guaranteed to attract attention and arouse interest. Appended are brief biographical sketches of the presidents and a short bibliography. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

HThis lighthearted, often humorous roundup of anecdotes and trivia is cast as a handbook of helpful hints to aspiring presidential candidates. St. George (Sacagawea; Crazy Horse) points out that it might boost your odds of being elected if your name is James (the moniker of six former presidents) or if your place of birth was a humble dwelling ("You probably weren't born in a log cabin. That's too bad. People are crazy about log-cabin Presidents. They elected eight"). She serves up diverse, occasionally tongue-in-cheek tidbits and spices the narrative with colorful quotes from her subjects. For instance, she notes that "Warren Harding was a handsome man, but he was one of our worst Presidents" due to his corrupt administration, and backs it up with one of his own quotes, "I am not fit for this office and never should have been here." Meanwhile, Small (The Gardener) shows Harding crowned king of a "Presidential Beauty Contest"; all the other presidents applaud him (except for a grimacing Nixon). The comical, caricatured artwork emphasizes some of the presidents' best known qualities and amplifies the playful tone of the text. For an illustration of family histories, Small depicts eight diminutive siblings crawling over a patient young George Washington; for another featuring pre-presidential occupations, Harry Truman stands at the cash register of his men's shop while Andrew Johnson (a former tailor) makes alterations on movie star Ronald Reagan's suit. The many clever, quirky asides may well send readers off on a presidential fact-finding missionDand spark many a discussion of additional anecdotes. A clever and engrossing approach to the men who have led America. Ages 7-up. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Gr. 3^-5, younger for reading aloud. Portraits of the presidents can be generally described as staid, stodgy, and dull. Throw these adjectives out the window when describing this book's group portrayal of American presidents. St. George leads her audience, ostensibly young presidential hopefuls, through the good points of the presidency (big house with its own bowling alley and movie theater) and bad points (lots of homework). Then she offers a spiffy presidential history with comparisions and contrasts: most popular names, log cabin origins, ages, looks, backgrounds, pets, musical abilities, favorite sports, and personalities ("William McKinley was so nice that he tried to stop a mob from attacking the man who had just shot him"). The book holds out the possibility that someday a woman, a person of color, or a person who is neither Protestant nor Roman Catholic might be elected president. The discussion ends with the oath of office and the thought that most presidents have tried to do their best to fulfill it. David Small's delightful illustrations, usually droll and sometimes hilarious, will draw children to the book and entertain them from page to page. Memorable images include the comical sight of the obese President Taft being lowered into a bathtub by a crane and a powerful scene showing two figures, Nixon (looking disgruntled) and Clinton (looking dejected), descending the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, under the shadow of impeachment. Thoughtful composition and layout both contribute to the lively visual presentation of this most original look at the presidency. The light tone of the book makes it possible for readers to absorb a great deal of information, some of it silly, but underlying the treatment is a sense of the significance and dignity of the office and the faith that children still aspire to be president. --Carolyn Phelan