Woodrow for President: A Tail of Voting, Campaigns, and Elections

Woodrow for  President: A Tail of Voting, Campaigns, and Elections by Peter W. Barnes.  Illustrated by Cheryl Shaw Barnes.  Regnery Press, 2012.  32 pages.  Publisher recommends for grades K-4.

The process of electing the president of the United States is complex. As Woodrow G Washingtail (the mouse) runs for president, concepts such as the primaries and the general election are explained.

The first two pages make it very clear that if you grow up valuing hard work and knowing the difference between right and wrong, as well as eating all your food and studying hard you could be the president of the United States. The next two pages add a bit more: a potential president should also help his wife around the house, help his children with their homework and volunteer in the community. We learn nothing about Woodrow’s thought process as he decides to run for president. Is the run for president simply the next in the line of his volunteer projects? We do learn about the different stages of the campaign, and we learn that Woodrow is interested in jobs and making cheese, and poor church mice, and sending a mouse astronaut to the moon. But we see no other mouse candidate disagreeing with him,  none of the arguments that can make politics so exciting.. We also learn that Woodrow plagerizes, using Kennedy’s “ask not what you can do for your country…” and George H.W. Bush’s “…point of light…” in his Inaugural Address.

Written to be read aloud, the book uses rhyming verse.  For some books, rhyming verse is appropriate, as are mice in political positions.  But both the rhymes and the mice seem to trivialize the very important process of electing a president.

The illustrations are fun, but much too small and detailed for a book that will be read aloud to a group of children.  In addition, the mice are various subtly distinct shades of grey and brown.  The look is homogeneous.  A secret service mouse shows up in all the illustrations, providing  “Where’s Waldo” fun.

I looked at other books published by Regnery Press, and found many, many very conservative titles, leading me to think that a child from a conservative home might be more comfortable with this book than a child from a more liberal home.

There is a “Tail End” at the end of the book, where the information is repeated, minus the mice and the rhyming verse, for parents and teachers.


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