Grace Goes To Washington (Kelly DiPucchio)

Hello friends, and happy International Women’s Day! To celebrate, we’re reviewing Grace Goes To Washington, written by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by LeUyen Pham, the sequel to one of our all-time favorite titles, Grace For President.

The school trip to Washington, D.C. is coming up, and Grace – the aspiring government leader who already has a successful run for class president under her belt – could not be more excited. For now, however, she must work in congress with her fellow class representatives to decided what to do with the proceeds from the school bake sale. Different contingents propose different needs: new athletic equipment, new band instruments, or new library books? Grace isn’t sure how to vote, as all are worthy causes. The class trip to D.C. provides a break from the debate, and Grace is deeply inspired by what she sees. Yet when she returns to school, all she sees is unrest – the fighting over how the bake sale money should be spent has reached a fever pitch, and friends are arguing on the playground. But in the melee, Grace notices a lonely new student, and inspiration strikes. Perhaps what the school needs most of all is a reminder of what people can accomplish when they work together.

Lovely. Just as Grace challenged the ideas that only men could lead in her previous book, she’s back to encourage teamwork and cooperation over partisanship (doesn’t that sound nice?). And like the previous title worked in a wonderful explanation of how the electoral college functions, this one provides a lesson in the branches of government, the executive and legislative in particular. Pham’s art features diverse characters that are alive with emotion and personality, and the text is earnest and impactful. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ and I were both so pleased to see Grace inspiring other kids to take the lead and do what’s right once again. A worthy sequel, and a reminder for readers big and small that by working together despite our differences, we can achieve great and lasting things. Baby Bookworm approved!

The President of the Jungle (André Rodrigues, Larissa Ribeiro, Paula Desgualdo & Pedro Markun)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The President of the Jungle, written and illustrated by André Rodrigues, Larissa Ribeiro, Paula Desgualdo, and Pedro Markun, a clever look at the process of democratic elections.

This time, the king of the jungle has gone too far! Lion, deciding he wanted a swimming pool in his front yard, has diverted the river to fill it. His subjects are outraged at his dismissal of their concerns, and begin to wonder: should Lion even BE king of the jungle anymore? Deciding that a new leader is needed, the animals take Owl’s suggestion of holding democratic elections to choose the new president; Snake, Sloth, Monkey, and Lion throw their paws in the ring as candidates. After a period of campaigning, debating, and rallying support, Election Day is here – but who will come out on top?

Wildly informative fun. This Brazilian import (translated by Lyn Miller-Lachmann) manages to do the near-impossible, laying out the framework of modern democratic elections in a way that is accessible and even entertaining for young readers. Complex concepts are simplified without losing the core of their significance to the process; topics covered range from the voting process to debating (“And sometimes they just argued”) to even a candidate being disqualified for vote buying, all in a way that is understandable yet never patronizing. Adding in vibrant, dynamic illustrations, it makes for an engagingly educational read. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ loved the animals and their antics. As the long slog of election season drags on here in the States, this would be a great story to help kids understand the process. Highly recommended, and Baby Bookworm approved!

Sofia Valdez, Future Prez (Andrea Beaty)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Sofia Valdez, Future Prez, written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts, the fourth inspiring character to emerge from the pair’s phenomenal Questioneers series.

Even when she was a baby, Sofia liked to get things done, especially when she was helping others. As she grew, she and her abuelo would head out every week to help the elderly people of their community; there was no public space for them to gather, so most spent their time home alone. As Abuelo was walking Sofi to class one morning, their dog spotted a squirrel and gave chase, leading Sofi and Abuelo to fall down a massive hill of garbage. Abuelo injures his leg and is unable to walk with Sofia, who is furious at the dangerous and disgusting trash pile. She decides to do something about it, and leads a charge, her bold ideas inspiring many of her neighbors to support her. However, once the time comes to make a plan and follow through, Sofia suddenly realizes: it’s all on her to make things happen. But how can one little girl do big things all on her own?

Fantastic. At this point, it’s hard to imagine Beaty and Roberts NOT creating a book that is touching, inspiring, beautiful, and as much fun to look at as it is to read. Not a tale of politics so much as one of government – and the grit and determination it often takes to break through bureaucracy – there is also the strong message that activism has no age limits. Yet with all these big themes, Beaty’s playful yet powerful writing style and Roberts’ quirky illustrations (FILLED with callbacks, cameos, and Easter eggs for eagle-eyed readers to find) keep things light. The length is perfect, and JJ and I loved it. A phenomenal tale of courage and compassion, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved.

When You Grow Up To Vote (Eleanor Roosevelt, with Michelle Markel)

Hello, friends! Our book today is When You Grow Up To Vote, written by Eleanor Roosevelt with Michelle Markel and illustrated by Grace Lin, a wonderfully informative chapter book that walks children through the structure of the US government and the effect we can have on it.

Originally published in 1932, this second edition has been updated to be more inclusive and to reflect changes in government since Roosevelt’s day. Starting with an introduction to government employees such as police, firefighters, and sanitation workers, the topics move up through city, state, and national government. Readers are introduced to how bills become laws, how the electoral college works (and how it can be manipulated through gerrymandering), and above all, the importance of making one’s voice heard by voting in elections.

Both timely and timeless. This was a chapter book, and definitely meant for an age group older than JJ’s, but we did choose some key passages to read together and I was so impressed. It’s amazing how Roosevelt’s voice and passion for government carries across decades, and Markel has done a wonderful job of providing necessary updates to the subject matter. The information covered is vital for any citizen, yet it’s approached in a way that simplifies it for – yet never talks down to – its reader. The illustrations bring diversity and visual interest to what can sometimes be dry topics, and fits perfectly without overwhelming. The length is absolutely for older bookworms, but it’s a great way to introduce little ones to their own important place in government. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)