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on September 20, 2008
I read somewhere recently that "The Kid Who Ran for President" is a perfect book for upper elementary/middle school students to read to understand the election process. Whoever made that comment is totally right. I learned a few things myself.
In creating this unlikely scenario, Dan Gutman has threaded civics lessons through the warp and woof of the story of a 12-year-old running for president. Judson Moon and Lane Brainard (the names are intentionally derived by Gutman) decide that a kid needs to wage a campaign since the two presidential candidates set to run are so unsatisfactory.
Lane is the brains of the two (get the pun?) and Judson the quick thinker on this feet. I must share this one part of the story. First, they need a slogan. Can't think of a good one. Decide VP--it's June Syers, an old African-American woman whom Judd loves as a grandmother. Do you see the slogan coming? It's Moon and June for office! Next, which party? Neither. Let's make a new one: the Lemonade Party. Who will be First Babe? And so on.
The campaign develops its own life, especially with the machinations of Lane's braininess. They need twenty million to run a campaign. What Lane uses is brilliant and works (of course with a little help from the author). Everything they do snowballs for their benefit.
That's all I will say, except that I thoroughly enjoyed this book for ages 9-12. It is fun, educational in a tricky way, and just plain ol' good reading. During the unwinding of the plot, several provocative questions are raised, leading to great class discussions!
Do Judson Moon and June Syers win? The sequel is "The Kid Who Became President," yet the fun of the book is the journey, not the end. This book is highly recommended for class readings and discussion.