The Kid Who Ran for President

The Kid Who Ran for President by Dan Gutman.  Scholastic, 2012 (first published 1996).  176 pages.  Publisher recommends for ages 8 and up.  ISBN: 9780545442138.

Adults have tried long enough to clean up the problems of the world.  It’s time to give kids a chance, so Judson Moon, a funny and irreverent twelve year old in Madison, Wisconsin, is running for president of the United States.  His friend, Lane Brainard, is his campaign manager.  Lane knows quite a lot about running for president.  Moon knows almost nothing.  Wisely, he agrees to let Lane make all his decisions from the moment he announces his candidacy until the end of the campaign.  June Syers, a surrogate grandmother to Moon, is his running mate, and Chelsea Daniels, one of the best looking girls in his class, is his “First Babe.”

Lane plants a story about Moon’s candidacy which is picked up by news outlets. Soon Moon is constantly followed by reporters. Kids all over the country get involved in the “lemonade party,” so called because they raise money for Moon by selling lemonade.  They also talk their parents into voting for Moon.

In the course of the campaign, Moon finds out what it’s like to be center of attention, how one goes about changing the Constitution (so kids can be president), what a presidential debate is like, and what it’s like to watch the returns on election night. He has a great time. Whenever the campaign gets too serious he reminds himself that he’s just doing this “as a goof.”  When Lane gets too serious, Moon begins joking.

The timing of this revised edition couldn’t be better. The book is funny and fun and a completely painless way to learn about not only a presidential election but how to make a change to the Constitution.

Election! A Kid’s Guide to Picking Our President, 2012 Edition

Election!  A Kid’s Guide to Picking Our President, 2012 Edition by Dan Gutman.  Open Road Integrated Media, 2012. 162 pages.  Recommend for ages 8-12.  ISBN: 9781453270660.

Election! Addresses the process of electing a president of the United States. It discusses the presidency, our system of government, how a campaign works, who can be a candidate for president of the United States, how voting works in the United States, and finally how the election itself works.

Information is presented as answers to questions. Each answer is between half a page and a page and a half long.  You can dip into the book and find a few answers to questions, or read the book cover to cover.  Reading it from cover to cover is easy, because after reading the answer to one question, the reader gets hooked and wants to know the answer to the next question.

Dan Gutman’s writing style is accessible.  At the beginning of the section on the electoral college he writes “You’d better sit down for this. Lock yourself in a room and don’t do any texting for a few minutes.”(page 109).

Gutman includes an impressive amount of history, and this real life information helps to keep the book from being boring.

I was surprised to see that “Primaries have only been around since the 1970s.” (page 62).  I clearly remember the night of the California primary in 1968.  It was the night Bobby Kennedy was assassinated.  Given the accuracy of the rest of the book, I suspect the use of “1970” was an error in typing or editing.

At the end of the book, there’s a glossary, a list of places to find more information, and a list of all the presidents.  Unfortunately, there’s no index.

Election! Is a fun way to find how American Presidential politics work.