When third-grader Bobby Barton unexpectedly becomes the first kid president of the United States, he goes a little wild.
On a field trip to the National Archives in Washington, D.C., Bobby Barton stumbles upon a long-lost section of the Constitution allowing an American of any age to take over the office of president by challenging the current president to a game of checkers. Bobby wins. He then finds himself on a crash course through the American government as he becomes the country’s youngest president. When Congress won’t approve his kid-friendly bills—candy stores are to stay open 24 hours a day; movie theaters must let kids in for free—Bobby goes against the advice of his mentors and uses executive orders to put his laws into effect. He’s having a great time as president—his poll numbers for American children are surely through the roof—but he’s becoming unpopular among adults, and small business owners are hurting. As commander in chief, Bobby has some big decisions to make. The book reads a little like a “what I did on my summer vacation” essay. Characters tend to be one-dimensional, and in spite of including a girl vice president, the story is noticeably short on female characters. Betz’s impressive black-and-white, penciled illustrations have plenty of contrast and expressiveness, and young readers might appreciate the hand-drawn approach. Though the plot doesn’t have much substance, it successfully provides a civics lesson for American children, as Maguire (Professor Atlas And The Summoning Dagger, 2011) offers a kid-friendly breakdown of how American government works, complete with a basic outline of the nuts and bolts for the branches of the federal government and an easy-to-read glossary of political terms. Young readers are sure to walk away with a firm grasp of Bobby’s presidential struggles and why there’s more to running a country than giving out free candy.
A bit dull, but more engaging than a civics textbook.