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President Pennybaker    by Kate Feiffer & Diane Goode order for
President Pennybaker
by Kate Feiffer
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2008 (2008)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Daninhirsch

What child hasn't dreamed of making the rules in his own household? In his own school? In his own country? President Pennybaker plays on a universal childhood (and maybe adult) daydream about becoming president and manipulating the world to suit your own needs.

In this book, in which the fun and colorful illustrations remind me of comic strip characters, Luke Pennybaker decides to run for President of the United States after his father refuses to let him watch TV (and after Luke performs all of the chores he thinks will entitle him to the TV).

Luke announces his candidacy at school, with his underlying platform to 'make life fair.' He makes promises to the children at school - about being able to eat dessert any time of the day or being able to own any kind of pet they'd like. Luke's dog Lily is his running mate, and they embark upon a nationwide campaign, promising children the ability to wear shorts in the winter, keep a messy room, and draw pictures at the dinner table.

Of course, Luke isn't able to vote for himself on Election Day because he is too young (as is everyone who would be interested in voting for him), but somehow he ends up the winner. Once he is elected, though, his problems are just beginning: it seems as though some of his constituents are not happy with their ice cream flavors or birthday presents, and they are complaining. Suddenly, life doesn't seem so fair any more to President Pennybaker. The book subtly highlights the classic scenario of 'be careful what you wish for.'

In light of the upcoming US presidential election, President Pennybaker is timely in subject and, despite its lighthearted nature, it could certainly be used as a jumping off point to begin a discussion about politics.

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