From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3—Young Luke Pennybaker realizes that life is unfair after receiving one too many "no's" from his dad. In response, he decides to run for president. With his dog as running mate and campaign promises that address homework, sleeping late, and the right to a messy room, his candidacy quickly takes off. The "Birthday Party" candidate beats his Democratic and Republican rivals in a landslide. When he moves into the White House, which has been painted orange in response to Luke's persuasiveness, President Pennybaker soon learns that even free ice cream and presents won't please every one of his constituents. He promptly resigns, leaving the leadership of the nation to his dog. Deadpan narration allows the absurdity of the premise to carry the day, with plenty of help from the illustrations. Goode's breezy watercolors set just the right tone. Luke looks amusingly earnest and always very much a regular kid. Other characters are equally expressive, without being too exaggerated. Old-fashioned phones, televisions, and other implements set the action in an earlier era, neatly adjusted to include rich ethnic diversity and a female presidential candidate. The humor is deftly understated, both visually and verbally, making this an amusing and appealing send-up of politics and children's chores.—Steven Engelfried, Multnomah County Library, OR
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Young Luke Pennybaker’s moment of disillusionment comes when he has finished his list of chores and still isn’t permitted to watch television. Life is unfair. How to remedy the situation? Run for president. First, he gets the support of his schoolmates on a platform of less homework and more pets. Then he spends the summer campaigning and wins the election, even though he can’t vote. But once in office, Luke realizes the job’s harder than he thought. On to plan B. Obviously, the story’s specifics aren’t intended to bear much scrutiny, but even so, the humor in places seems forced. Happily, the talented Goode’s artwork finds fun everywhere: atop a mountain with Luke speechifying to backpackers; at a debate where his idea of painting the White House orange is topic number 1; and on the job, where Luke’s advisors leave him less time to watch TV than before. With a retro look (Luke even resembles a young Skeezix from the Gasoline Alley comic strip), this is good-looking election-year fare. Preschool-Grade 1. --Ilene Cooper