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So You Want to Be President? (Caldecott Medal Book) Hardcover – August 21, 2000

70 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

Tired of books about the presidency that present themselves as history books? Author Judith St. George--along with Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator David Small--has created a book about the presidency that's serious fun. The basic theme is that anyone can be president: a fat man (William Howard Taft) or a tiny man (James Madison), a relative youngster (Teddy Roosevelt at 42) or oldster (Ronald Reagan at 69). Presidential hobbies, sports, virtues, and vices all get a tongue-in-cheek airing, perfectly matched by Small's political-cartoon style of caricature painting. It's fun, but the underlying purpose is clearly serious: to remind kids that the American presidents have been a motley group of individuals, not a row of marble busts. Ironically, that message makes the presidency far more interesting (and appealing) than it seems in some of the more traditional books. There's a factual addendum at the back giving all the dates and names, with a one-line bio for each past-president. (Ages 8 and older) --Richard Farr

From Publishers Weekly

HThis lighthearted, often humorous roundup of anecdotes and trivia is cast as a handbook of helpful hints to aspiring presidential candidates. St. George (Sacagawea; Crazy Horse) points out that it might boost your odds of being elected if your name is James (the moniker of six former presidents) or if your place of birth was a humble dwelling ("You probably weren't born in a log cabin. That's too bad. People are crazy about log-cabin Presidents. They elected eight"). She serves up diverse, occasionally tongue-in-cheek tidbits and spices the narrative with colorful quotes from her subjects. For instance, she notes that "Warren Harding was a handsome man, but he was one of our worst Presidents" due to his corrupt administration, and backs it up with one of his own quotes, "I am not fit for this office and never should have been here." Meanwhile, Small (The Gardener) shows Harding crowned king of a "Presidential Beauty Contest"; all the other presidents applaud him (except for a grimacing Nixon). The comical, caricatured artwork emphasizes some of the presidents' best known qualities and amplifies the playful tone of the text. For an illustration of family histories, Small depicts eight diminutive siblings crawling over a patient young George Washington; for another featuring pre-presidential occupations, Harry Truman stands at the cash register of his men's shop while Andrew Johnson (a former tailor) makes alterations on movie star Ronald Reagan's suit. The many clever, quirky asides may well send readers off on a presidential fact-finding missionDand spark many a discussion of additional anecdotes. A clever and engrossing approach to the men who have led America. Ages 7-up. (Aug.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 and up
  • Grade Level: 3 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 730L (What's this?)
  • Series: Caldecott Medal Book
  • Hardcover: 56 pages
  • Publisher: Philomel (August 21, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399234071
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399234071
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 0.4 x 11.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,493,437 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Roz Levine on December 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Did you know that six of our presidents were named James and four were named William? Or that James Madison was our smallest president at only five feet four inches, Abe Lincoln our tallest at six feet four inches and William Howard Taft weighed more than three hundred pounds? Did you know that most presidents went to college, but nine didn't and they included George Washington and Harry Truman. Presidents have come from all walks of life, had lots of different interests and hobbies and have found their way to the most powerful office in the world, in a variety of ways. Judith St. George has taken the stuffiness out of presidential history and written a very clever, witty book full of funny anecdotes and interesting facts. Her easy to read and enjoyable text is complimented by David Small's expressive and imaginative political cartoon-like illustrations. Together they take the some of the mystery out of the presidency and let future aspirants know that anyone can grow up to be president. This is a terrific book for 8-12 year olds, chock full of information and includes an appendix with dates and important contributions for each of our 41 presidents.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Judy K. Polhemus VINE VOICE on September 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
Political times are here! Campaign promises are in the air. Do these two candidates--Barack Obama and John McCain have the "right stuff?" Let's check them out against previous presidents.

"So You Want to Be President" is filled with all kinds of facts about all previous 42 presidents. Oh, I heard you--you're right, there have been 43 presidents. This book, written by Judith St. George and illustrated by David Small and published in 2000 just before the election, contains all kinds of facts about the men who have been president.

If you are a blood relative of a president, your chances go up to become a president. Father and son twice, grandfather/grandson, fifth cousins, and second cousins. You don't have to be handsome to be president--Lincoln wasn't and he certainly stands the test of time. Harding was handsome and he is rated one of the worst presidents. And there's Bill Clinton...

Nine presidents played instruments; nine did not go to college. Jefferson was "top-notch in the brains department." Ten presidents were generals in the military. Almost any job can lead to the White House, including tailor and actor. If you are dishonest, you get kicked out.

This book was awarded the Caldecott Gold Medal in 2001 for best children's literature to be published the previous year. The illustrations are humorous and serious, always eye-catching and complementary to the script.
The text is equally entertaining and educational. This book will be a classic because it is historical and accurate. A delightful journey through American history, particularly the presidents, makes this a welcome addition to any library collection.
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Format: Hardcover
This book provides the most fun view of the past presidents that it has been my pleasure to read. Around age 3, most children begin to think about what they want to do "when I grow up." Speculation often centers around visible careers like being a mommy, teacher, nurse, fireman, doctor or gas station attendant (at least in our family). So You Want to Be President brilliantly captures that young child's perspective by looking at the pros (you have a house to live in, the White House, and some pretty neat sports alternatives) and cons (it's hard and difficult work), and goes on to point out that people from many backgrounds with different skills (from soldiers to store clerks) have become president. The result is to make the idea of becoming president more interesting and accessible. Who knows? This book may even inspire your child to become a great president (of some volunteer organization, if not of the United States). Wouldn't that be wonderful!
The presidents are taken off of their monumental marble thrones, and presented here as real people. There is humor. Lincoln denied he was two-faced because that would be a mistake in light of the face he had (he was not the most attractive fellow). There is honesty. Clinton and Nixon lied and suffered for it. There is trivia. How many presidents had their clothes stolen by female reporters while skinny dipping? There is religious information. All of the presidents have been Protestants or Catholics. You get statistics on how many vice presidents have made it to the top job, and how. Unless you are a trivia expert on the presidency, at least some of this will be new to you. All of it will be new, and most of it interesting, to your child.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Although this book is "rated" for grades 3-5, it's my kindergarten-aged child who loves it most. The book is an entertaining and informative intro to the variety of men who have served in the presidency. Small's illustrations are fun and imaginative, yet accurate enough that each president is easily recognizable. The major presidents are highlighted. We really like the chronological index at the end which, in two or three sentences, summarizes each man's presidential contributions. Emily chose this before it won its award, but it was already a winner in our house!
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