From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 2—More tribute than biography, Winter's picture book adopts the same reverential tone found in Nikki Grimes's Barack Obama
(S & S, 2008). Yes, the facts of Obama's life can be found here. Readers learn about his brief interactions with his father from Kenya, his stay in Indonesia with his white mother and her new husband, his work in Chicago, election to the Senate, and nomination for the presidency. But Winter also includes speculations about Obama's inner questioning of his identity and endows his life with an almost messianic quality. After quoting Martin Luther King, Jr., he declares that Obama "would be the embodiment of King's dream—a presidential candidate whose very being was a bridge that joined nations." Ford's illustrations reinforce this vision of greatness, whether Obama delivers a speech in front of a huge American flag or gazes confidently into the future while skies clear behind him. Even his enthusiastic supporters may squirm at such adulation. Children deserve a more evenhanded presentation.—Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankato
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In an election year, no demographic goes totally ignored, including those who have quite a few years left before they can vote. Following a model similar to Nikki Grimes’ Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope (2008), Winter’s book focuses on Obama’s upbringing, his travels between Hawaii and Indonesia, and how he was shuttled between parents and grandparents. The book’s refrain consists of two questions Obama keeps asking himself: “Who am I?” and “Where do I belong?” The nitty-gritty of politics are ignored (the word Democrat only comes up in the author’s note); Winter instead focuses on inspiring messages of hope and change. Although filled with fewer specifics than Grimes’ book, the paintings are more realistic. Interestingly, both books share some nearly identical illustrations, including an image of a tear rolling down the cheek of a churchgoing Obama. As with any such book, there is a danger in mythologizing a figure who is only beginning his political journey, but for young readers wondering about that man on the TV, this is a good starting point. Grades K-2. --Daniel Kraus