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Children's books embrace Obama

January 16, 2009|Associated Press

Books to inspire and inform young people about President-elect Barack Obama and his historic inauguration include an artist's celebration of the American spirit, the life of the first lady-to-be and a look at our 44th commander in chief for preschoolers.

Obama-mania has generated junior biographies and fresh presidential encyclopedias by the armload in time for the big swearing-in Tuesday, but parents beware: Splashy Obama covers or promised postelection updates may not pay off, so check inside.

For very young children, there is, with a little help from a grown-up, "my first presidential board book" from Michaelson Entertainment in Santa Monica: "Barack Obama 101" by Brad M. Epstein ($10.95). It includes full-color photos of the smiling first family, Obama grinning at the wheel of a bumper car with daughter Sasha, and Obama the boy, college guy and community organizer.

Other standouts:

* "Yes We Can!" (Scholastic, $4.99, ages 4-8) with numerous photo credits.

This quick and simple picture-book companion to the biography of the same name pairs colorful news photos of Obama, his family and young supporters with text from his victory speech. The borderless images and his plea for help are a powerful match for kids.

* "Change Has Come" (Simon & Schuster, $12.99, 9-12) illustrated by Kadir Nelson, with the words of Obama.

Kadir captures Obama's messages of strength, hope and change in black-and-white drawings in this small celebration of the American spirit for young people.

* "Barack Obama, People We Should Know" (Gareth Stevens Publishing, ages 9-12) by Geoffrey M. Horn.

Out in paperback this month, this slim volume from Weekly Reader offers the victorious highs but also details the tough stuff from Obama's childhood and young adult years: his mother's marital and financial struggles, his early election defeats and the bad impression he left on Michelle Obama when he was late for their first date.

* "Barack Obama, Our 44th President" (Simon & Schuster, $5.99, ages 9-12) By Beatrice Gormley.

Among the better biographies for young people, recently updated with Obama's victory.

* "Michelle Obama, Meet the First Lady" (Harper Collins, $16.99, ages 8-12) by David Bergen Brophy.

Drawing strength from the struggles of her disabled father and hardworking mother on Chicago's South Side, Michelle Obama's life as a young girl at predominantly white Princeton is described with a steady hand, as is her first look at her husband-to-be in "bad sport jacket and a cigarette dangling from his mouth." Brophy relies nicely on the soon-to-be first lady's own words.

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