From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 5—A bright child of humble background is encouraged by the adults around him to believe that he is capable of doing anything he wants to do. Sound familiar? It's called the American Dream, and the boy is Barack Obama, a biracial child who has gone on to change the course of history. This picture-book biography serves to educate children not only about Obama's journey thus far, but also to connect his circumstances to their own. In particular, children of color now know that they too have boundless potential. Grimes's imagery, however, is occasionally overblown as both Hope and God speak directly to Obama. His impressive life story needs no inflating, and the heavy imagery gets in the way of the message. Collier's vivid watercolor and collage artwork brings the varied aspects of the man's life together. From the sparkling beaches of Hawaii where he played as a child to the brown, arid village in Kenya where his father was buried, readers see Obama always reaching toward the future. Despite the overly laudatory tone, this book is an appealing addition to biography collections.—Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
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Inspirational is the word for this glowing picture-book biography, framed by the fictional story of a small African American boy who asks his loving, single-parent mom to tell him about Barack Obama. With fast free verse (“His family stretched / from Kansas to Kenya; / his mama, white as whipped cream, / his daddy, black as ink”) and big, handsome illustrations, Coretta Scott King Award winners Grimes and Collier tell the story of Obama’s life. Beginning with his childhood in Hawaii, double-page spreads show him interacting with kids from all over the world. Despite the sadness of his parents getting divorced, both inspire him to find hope in education, and he learns to confront racism (“hurt and hate and history”), and is moved to help the poor. Grimes’ stirring words and Collier’s watercolor-and-collage pictures convey the power of diversity to make a “new whole.” On each spread a small box displays the running conversation between the boy and his mother, and his final comment is: “When I grow up, I want to be the president.” Preschool-Grade 2. --Hazel Rochman
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