Grace learns about the branches of government and uses a democratic process at school to make their community a kinder place.
Grace can’t wait for her class trip to Washington, D.C. But that’s not the only thing happening at school. The bake sale was a success, and the student council is charged with deciding how to spend the money. Various classroom representatives and committees have suggestions, as does Principal Pérez. Should they buy new library books, musical instruments, or sports equipment? Sam likens the student-government system to the national government, with an executive branch (Principal Pérez) and a legislative branch (the elected leaders on the student council). The class has an inspiring trip to Washington, D.C., but back at school, everyone is still arguing over how to spend the money. Grace notices a new student sitting alone, and when she sees his sketchpad, she gets an idea. They collaborate on a proposal for a “Friendship Mall,” and voting day becomes a time for unity instead of fighting. The text effectively ties together the story’s threads while using child-friendly parallels to familiarize readers with the branches of government. Pham’s characteristically exuberant illustrations depict a diverse school community in which learning, leadership, and kindness coexist. Grace herself is a black girl with locs, Sam presents white, the new boy is South Asian, and Principal Pérez also has brown skin.
A layered story with educational and entertainment appeal. (author’s note, suggested activities, chart of checks and balances) (Picture book. 6-10)