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So You Want to Be President?

by Judith St. George
Illustrated by David Small

Published by Philomel, 2000
52 pages
ISBN: 0-399-23407-1

Ages 7 - 12

As the 2000 election looms, some children may be wondering if they will have what it takes to be President themselves one day. Judith St. George's light-hearted approach to presidential character may provide some answers for them. Beginning with a list of good things about being President (the White House has a bowling alley) and bad things (lots of homework), she moves on to compare and contrast the physical and emotional characteristics, as well as the personal histories, of the first 42 Presidents. Intriguing tidbits and quotations emerge. In a double-page spread devoted to the Presidents' varied musical abilities, for instance, we learn that Chester A. Arthur played the banjo and Warren G. Harding, the sousaphone. Ulysses S. Grant, on the other hand, claimed he knew only two tunes: "One is 'Yankee Doodle Dandy' and the other isn't." David Small's amusing illustrations cleverly use the style of political cartoons, often showing interactions among Presidents from different eras for a humorous effect. A page devoted to pre-presidential occupations, for instance, shows former tailor Andrew Johnson pinning trouser hems for former movie actor Ronald Reagan while former men's shop owner Harry S. Truman minds the till. For readers less familiar with presidential visages, a list of men featured in each illustration is included at the back of the book, as is a complete chronological list of Presidents with a brief annotation citing their major accomplishments in office. (KTH; August 21) 2000 Cooperative Children's Book Center


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