A sunny opener for more-nuanced overviews like Judith St. George and David Small’s classic So You Want to Be President...


A starter volume for newly independent readers curious about what presidents of the U.S. are supposed to do.

Singer presents both the basic responsibilities—meeting foreign leaders, working with Congress to pass laws, being in charge of the armed forces that “keep Americans safe”—and steady rounds of public appearances and speeches. She also lays out presidential qualifications (the Constitutional sort, anyway: “You must be at least 35 years old. No kids allowed!”), explains how election campaigns and voting work, and offers quick tours of Washington, D.C., and the White House. Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy, and a few other presidents from the distant past make cameos, but most of the big, bright photos feature Barack Obama and his immediate predecessors. A quiz and an invitation to presidential wannabes to answer the question “What would you do for the country?” close this presidential primer.

A sunny opener for more-nuanced overviews like Judith St. George and David Small’s classic So You Want to Be President (2000) or the newest edition of Eyewitness: Presidents (2017). (index, reading guide for parents) (Informational early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4654-5749-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: DK Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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Worthy intentions squandered on simplistic exhortations.



An enthusiastic invitation to understand and use our constitutional right to speak out.

Gliding silently over the real-world fact that First Amendment rights apply to minors only in qualified ways, two legal experts who specialize in defending journalists blithely assure young readers in rhyme that they are not only “free to be quiet and free to be LOUD,” but also to pray where they will, to “sign your name to a letter,” to march in protest, to join groups (or not), and to “talk and debate about people in power.” Many will note that a claim that “Freedom belongs to all—even when what we hear sounds icky” leaves an open door for bullying and even unprotected hate speech. (Christy Mihaly and Manu Montoya’s otherwise more nuanced and perceptive Free for You and Me, 2020, similarly overlooks this potential violation of equal protection under the law.) The illustrations collage together a small smiley-face character with arms and a tail with photos of bright-faced, diverse children posing in tights and capes and such iconic First Amendment images as protest marches and the Bill of Rights and other founding documents. They are more decorative than demonstrative, and the closing historical note is not only nearly illegible, being printed in tiny dark type on a blue background, but includes at least one defunct URL.

Worthy intentions squandered on simplistic exhortations. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-947951-27-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: City Point Press/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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The information is not uninteresting, but its delivery is far from compelling.



A clueless itinerant jester becomes a device for communicating medieval fashion.

After getting fired from his job as a jester for the king, traveling entertainer Bickford arrives in a new village hoping to find work. There, Bickford bumps into Trowbridge, a local, who takes the jester on a tour, pointing out the class differences and social roles to be discerned based on people’s attire, taking care to articulate the potential consequences of breaking the rules. “Those two women are wearing a conical hat called a henin…they are showing that they are very important women by the height of their hats,” Trowbridge lectures, and “It can mean death to anyone outside the royal class who dares to wear purple cloth.” The dialogue throughout is so expository as to feel hopelessly stiff, and the illustrations are likewise bland and posed. Very occasional insets offer further exposition. From a plot standpoint, it is mystifying that Bickford, traveling on foot even “for days,” should be so thoroughly unfamiliar with the mores in a community close enough to his place of origin to share his language. The title of the book is a bit of a misnomer, as well, as the serfs’ tatters would hardly have been considered “fashion.” Bickford and Trowbridge both present white; occasional figures in the background appear to be people of color.

The information is not uninteresting, but its delivery is far from compelling. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63440-905-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Red Chair Press

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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