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SO YOU WANT TO BE PRESIDENT? by Judith St. George Kirkus Star

SO YOU WANT TO BE PRESIDENT?

By Judith St. George (Author) , David Small (Illustrator)

Age Range: 7 - 12

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-399-23407-1
Publisher: Philomel

Just in time for the presidential election, St. George (In the Line of Fire: Presidents Lives at Stake, 1999, etc.) uses the experiences of our 42 presidents to counsel youngsters harboring that uniquely American desire—to be president. Reflecting on the “good things about being President and . . . bad things about being President . . .” she offers a pleasingly diverse slate of facts and figures for her readers’ consideration: age (the oldest—Reagan; the youngest—Teddy Roosevelt), size (the smallest—Madison—at 100 lbs., contrasting with Taft, at over 300), career choices (generals, lawyers, haberdashers, farmers), first names (six Jameses, four Johns, four Williams, two Georges, two Franklins), education (nine presidents never went to college, while one—Andrew Johnson—“didn’t learn to write until after he was married”). At the close of this sometimes wry, sometimes sober survey (including impeachments, wars, and assassinations), St. George encourages: “If you want to be president—a good president—pattern yourself after the best . . . [those who] have asked more of themselves than they thought they could give . . . They [who] have had the courage, spirit, and will to do . . . [what’s] right.” Small’s (The Huckabuck Family, 1999, etc.) pitch-perfect caricatures, rendered in a mix of watercolor, ink, and pastel, expand on the personalities and support the narrative’s shifting moods. There’s a helpful key to every illustration and a presidential chronology from Washington to Clinton. Even a few “non-presidents” are featured: Pat Nixon and Henry Kissinger watch (with future President Ford) President Nixon bowl in the White House lanes, and there’s a wonderfully wry glimpse of two “also-ran’s”—Jesse Jackson and Geraldine Ferraro—excluded from an across-the-centuries presidential reception by a velvet rope. A superb, kid-centered survey and a perfect way to enliven the perennial class unit on the presidents. (Nonfiction. 7-12)