Grace For President

Grace For President.  Written by Kelly DiPucchio.  Illustrated by LeUyen Pham.  Disney-Hyperion Books, revised edition 2012.  40 pages.  Publisher recommends for ages 5-9.  ISBN: 9781423139997.

In her classroom, Grace sees a poster of all the presidents of the United States and realizes not one of them is a woman. Grace announces to her class that she would like to be president of the United States. Her teacher suggests an election at Woodrow Wilson elementary school. No one else in the class wants to be president, which leads Grace to believe that becoming president will be easy. The next day, though, Grace’s teacher announces that another class has also nominated a candidate to run in the election.

The next step is for each student to pick the name of a state out of a hat.  One of the students asks what the number next to the name of the state means. In a couple of succinct paragraphs the teachers explain the electoral college. Adults hearing such an explanation for the first time might say “now wait a minute!”  The kids accept it without question.

Grace and her rival, Thomas, run their campaigns by making promises and speeches. They make signs and Grace hands out cupcakes. In November, election day arrives and it’s a nail biter.

The illustrations are fun, and they capture the atmosphere of the election.   In one illustration, the boy who eventually decides the election is seen standing as part of the circle around one candidate but craning his neck to hear the other candidate.

In the back of the book there’s an Author’s Note.  It presents more information about presidential elections, with a heavy concentration on information about the electoral college.

Grace for President gives kids a sophisticated lesson about how a presidential election works.  It’s particularly strong on the electoral college.  Because of this strength, adults reading the book to kids may also gain a clearer picture of the electoral college.  But the wonderful thing about the form of Grace For President is that it’s fun.  It doesn’t read like it’s trying to teach kids anything.


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