Great Illustrated Books

So You Want to be President?

By Judith St. George

Philomel, 2004
Pages : 56
Suggested Ages: 8-12
ISBN: 9780399243172

"There are good things about being president and there are bad things about being president." Thus starts the 2001 Caldecott Medal winner, a riotously funny, trivia and anecdote-loaded picture book tribute to the number one job in the U.S., illustrated with grandly humorous but affectionate watercolor caricatures of our presidents in action. There's Nixon bowling, Taft bathing, and Andrew Jackson brawling. Throughout, we learn about what made the presidents tick, their sizes, ages, personalities, quirks, talents, interests, looks, and political achievements.

Can you name the tallest, the shortest, the fattest, the oldest; and the youngest? (Answers: Abe Lincoln, at 6'4"; James Madison at 5'4"; William Howard Taft at 300+ pounds; Ronald Reagan at 69 years; and Teddy Roosevelt at 42 years)

Certainly, readers will be fired up to read biographies about the presidents who fascinate them, and, in election years, to take a more discerning look at all the candidates, comparing their foibles and fancies. In school, students can create a Presidents Gallery: a bulletin board or wall dedicated to portraits and biographical sketches of each president, listing such facts as birth and death dates, home town, education, marriages, children, interests and talents, and, of course, political accomplishments.

In response to these books, Lisa Romeo's second grade students at James Monroe School in Edison, New Jersey, wrote and illustrated an insightful Top Ten list of advice for our new president, Barack Obama. Their list includes, Letterman style:

10. Make the world a better place because he could give cash to schools.
9. Treat other people the way you want to be treated.
8. Be patriotic.
7. Don't give up. Persevere.
6. Stop the war! And be nice to each other!
5. Make friends.
4. Keep your room clean.
3. Recycle.
2. Be fair. Be helpful.

And their number 1 tip for our new president?

1. Take your vitamins.

Reviewed by : JF.


If you love this book, then try:

Anderson, Laurie Halse. Independent Dames: What You Never Knew about the Women and Girls of the American Revolution. Simon & Schuster, 2008.

Burns, Diane, and Clint Burns. Hail to the Chief!: Jokes about the Presidents. Lerner, 1989.

Cleveland, Will. Yo, Millard Fillmore! Fundamentals, 1992.

Cronin, Doreen. Duck for President. Simon & Schuster, 2004.

DiPucchio, Kelly. Grace for President. Hyperion, 2008.

Fleming, Candace. The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary. Schwartz & Wade, 2008.

Freedman, Russell. Lincoln: A Photobiography. Clarion, 1987.

Gutman, Dan. The Kid Who Ran for President. Scholastic, 1996.

Harness, Cheryl. George Washington. National Geographic, 2000.

Harness, Cheryl. Ghosts of the White House. Simon & Schuster, 1998.

Jefferson, Thomas. The Declaration of Independence: The Words That Made America. Scholastic, 2002.

Jones, Rebecca C. The President Has Been Shot: True Stories of the Attacks on Ten U.S. Presidents. Dutton, 1996.

Jurmain, Suzanne Tripp. George Did It. Dutton, 2006.

Karr, Kathleen. It Happened in the White House. Hyperion, 2000.

Kerley, Barbara. What to Do About Alice?: How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove Her Father Teddy Crazy! Scholastic, 2008.

Krull, Kathleen. Lives of the Presidents: Fame, Shame (and What the Neighbors Thought). Harcourt, 1998.

O'Connor, Jane. If the Walls Could Talk: Family Life at the White House. Simon & Schuster, 2004.

Provensen, Alice. The Buck Stops Here: The Presidents of the United States. Harcourt, 2000.

Smith, Lane. Madam President. Hyperion, 2008.

St. George, Judith. So You Want to Be an Inventor? Philomel, 2002.

Stier, Catherine. If I Were President. Albert Whitman, 1999.

Thimmesh, Catherine. Madam President: The Extraordinary, True (and Evolving) Story of Women in Politics. Houghton Mifflin, 2004.

Winters, Kay. My Teacher for President. Dutton, 2004.

Critics have said

"The comical, caricatured artwork emphasizes some of the presidents' best known qualities and amplifies the playful tone of the text��_The many clever, quirky asides may well send readers off on a presidential fact-finding mission and spark many a discussion of additional anecdotes. A clever and engrossing approach to the men who have led America."
Publishers Weekly