Book Review: Madam President
When I was in school, it didn’t take much for a kid to win a class election. Get up in front of the school, say a few words, and wear a trucker cap that says “Top Dog”. The duties once elected? Well, there really weren’t any. In the real world, this isn’t the case. The president’s responsibilities are endless. “Madam President” looks at these obligations through the eyes of a child, with winning results. In this election season, Lane Smith’s “Madam President” stands out for its wit and timeliness. Smith, who’s already on a roll this summer (having illustrated the outstanding “Big Plans“), pulls the whole thing off with seemingly effortless finesse.
“President” begins as a brown haired girl wakes up. “A president has many duties”, she says. That’s no lie. As the story unfolds, we go through the day with our unnamed heroine, learning about what it takes to be presidential. Executive orders, photo ops, treaties – it’s a full day. Our heroine approaches all these duties from a kid’s perspective, adding humor at every turn. My favorite passage occurs in the middle of the book, where our protagonist selects a cabinet from the objects in her room, including Mr. Potato Head as “Secretary of Agriculture”. After keeping the peace and coolly turning an oral report into a question-dodging press conference, an even bigger problem awaits back home. Her bedroom has been declared a disaster area. A president needs to be ready for every challenge, even the unexpected.
Smith’s mixed media illustrations are clear, colorful, and detailed. His mastery of expression provides the characters with instantly recognizable emotions, clearing the way for the reader to just enjoy the story.
A good choice for reading aloud, a good choice for individual perusing; simply put, a good choice.
Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.
About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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