Saturday, July 12, 2008

Otto Runs for President

Wells, Rosemary. 2008. Otto runs for president. New York: Scholastic.

Otto Runs for President is timely picture book entry into the presidential campaign season. Although slightly too advanced for the youngest picture book readers, Wells’ book is an excellent introduction into the politics, rather than the procedure, of choosing a president.

The Barkadelphia School is choosing a new president. Tiffany, the popular poodle is sure that she’ll win. Charles, the sporty bulldog is equally confident. Both candidates start out campaigning for their pet issues, “Eyebrow Pencils in our Pencil Kits! VOTE TIFFANY!” “Soda in the Water Fountains! VOTE CHARLES!” then quickly slide down the slippery slope of dirty politics, “The next morning, Post-it notes appeared on all the lockers.” “Charles…did he cheat on a math test? Who has fast fingers and sneaky eyes?” “Mysterious flyers appeared in the cafeteria that afternoon.” “Tiffany! Did she spend your class dues on hair spray?”

Meanwhile, quiet and deliberate Otto throws his hat into the ring. Campaigning the old-fashioned way, Otto meets with his classmates one at a time, asking their concerns. It won’t take a genius to find out who wins on Election Day.

The dogs of Barkadelphia School are drawn in Rosemary Wells’ signature style. Some of the story is told in the form of bumper stickers and Post-it notes on a background of blue lockers. Most pages have white space backgrounds, framed by humorous borders of paw prints, burgers, (“Whoppo Burgers in the Cafeteria! Vote Charles!”) and Post-its.

This is a great book, because it reinforces all the best of democratic government, while simultaneously introducing the darker side in a humorous and non-threatening manner.

Best for K-2.

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