Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Duck for President

In this season of national conventions, gearing up for the Presidential election in November, there are a number of books you could read to your young children to teach them about the electoral process. If you want to have fun at the same time, Duck for President written by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Betsy Lewin is the clear choice. Duck, who you may remember from Cronin and Lewin's Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type and Giggle, Giggle, Quack, has chores to do on Farmer Brown's farm. Specifically, he is supposed to take out the trash, mow the lawn, and grind the coffee beans. Duck does not like doing chores and decides to hold an election to replace Farmer Brown. He wins handily, but soon realizes that "Running a farm is very hard work." So he decides to run for governor and hits the campaign trail. Lewin's illustrations of Duck at small town diners, having a police escort, and speaking at town meetings manage to be both funny and charming. Duck becomes governor, but he gets a headache from running a state, and as the title intimated, runs for President. You can guess who wins the election.The illustration of Duck, alone, standing on a footstool in the Oval Office, makes me laugh every time. Spoiler alert: he leaves the vice president in charge and returns to the the farm to write his memoirs. I especially like the way Cronin deals with the fact that Duck cannot verbally communicate with humans. Just as in her previous books, she makes clever use of Duck's writing skills. For instance, he carries a sign reading,"VOTE FOR ME! A DUCK! NOT A POLITICIAN!" It is a great political run, and readers learn a fair bit about campaigning, ballots, and election coverage along the way. As it is a picture book, Duck for President is best suited for preschoolers through about second graders, but I think teachers of older students could find many ways to use this satirical and silly book in their classrooms this November.

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