Saturday, March 5, 2005

Duck for President

Cronin, Doreen. 2004. DUCK FOR PRESIDENT. Ill. by Betsy Lewin. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0689863772 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]

In this third book starring Farmer Brown and the subversive animals, Duck decides that he has had enough of farm chores. His solution is to have an election to see who will be in charge, he or Farmer Brown. After the animals vote and the votes are counted, Duck is clearly the winner. However Duck soon realizes that running a farm “is no fun at all,” so he campaigns and runs for governor. Again he wins, and before long he is running for president. He claims victory, but being president is not as easy as Duck thought. When a help-wanted ad, obviously written by Farmer Brown, appears in the newspaper, Duck heads back to the farm.

This delightful picture book is full of wit and charm. Cronin overlooked few, if any, events in the political process. For example, the farm animals must first register to vote. Throughout the story ballots are cast, votes are tallied and recounted, and Duck hits the campaign trail where he attends town meetings, gives speeches, kisses babies and rides in parades. He even plays the saxophone on television. This reference to Bill Clinton may be lost on young readers, but the humor will not. Lewin’s watercolor illustrations are priceless. After a hard day’s work, Farmer Brown is so filthy and smelly that the chickens pass out around him. The final page shows Duck writing his autobiography using a computer while an old typewriter is sitting in a trash can-- a clever allusion to CLICK, CLACK, MOO: COWS THAT TYPE.

Young readers will enjoy the repetitive text and expressive art. It is probably not a coincidence that this picture book was published during a U. S. presidential election year. Despite its perfect timing, its appeal among readers is likely to remain timeless.

Children can discuss the responsibilities of running a farm, being governor or being president. Children can participate in the political process by electing a class/classroom president (e.g. choose candidates, make posters, campaign, vote).

Another humorous book about running for office:
Parish, Herman. AMELIA BEDELIA 4 MAYOR. ISBN 0688167217
Another book by Cronin that could be paired with this one:

By S. Zulema Silva Bewley

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