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Election books for kids -- for now and later

November 06, 2012|By Hector Tobar
  • "Duck for President" by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin.
"Duck for President" by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin. (Atheneum Books for Young…)

Maybe you've got a kid like 4-year-old Abigael Evans, who famously rebelled against the nonstop media coverage of the presidential election between Mitt Romney and "Bronco Bamma." But politics has been your fix for months, and now it's election day. What's more, there's the very real possibility of a lot of angry people on the losing side filling up the airwaves with more angry commentary for weeks to come. Or even -- heaven forbid! -- the possibility of a recount. What's a stressed-out parent to do?

Thankfully, a bunch of children's authors have books that can to help you out. Over at the mom website LilSugar, they've got a list of the best books for discussing the elections with kids.

My favorite -- a book sure to bring a smile to the lips of Abigael and any other 4-year-old -- is "Duck for President" by Doreen Cronin and illustrator Betsy Lewin.

It tells a story that's sort of like "Animal Farm" meets "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." Tired of being abused by Farmer Brown, the animals of a certain farm stage a rebellion -- but it's a totally democratic one, with a duck campaigning to replace Farmer Brown in a fair and free election. "Vote Duck!" his campaign poster says. "For a Kinder, Gentler Farm."

After a very brief voting rights protest -- the rodents resent a height requirement that disenfranchises them -- Duck rides the animal resentment to a resounding victory over Farmer Brown (after a recount). Duck goes on to become governor and president, after playing the saxophone on TV. There's a YouTube reading of it here.

"Vote For Me," by Ben Clanton, is a great picture-book send-up of the general nastiness of your typical American campaign, as two candidates (a donkey and an elephant) hurl insults at each other.

Donkey to Elephant: "Jumbo!"

Elephant to Donkey: "Donkey!"

There's a You Tube version of "Vote for Me" in which Elephant and Donkey momentarily wind up friends -- until the results are announced and one of the candidates yells out, "I want a recount!"

In an interview with the website "Two Writing Teachers," Clanton gives us a short list of his own favorite political books for kids, including "Madam President" by Lane Smith, "Grace for President" by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by LeUyen Pham and "If I Ran for President" by Catherine Stier.

The last book on that list has a sequel by Stier called "If I Were President." "Imagine creating laws for a whole country," says the girl narrator, dreaming of working in the Oval Office. "That's something Congress and I would work on together."

Yes, in books for preschoolers and kindergarteners, there's always a happy ending.

hector.tobar@latimes.com

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