Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Otto Runs for President

Otto Runs for President

Rosemary Wells
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 8
Scholastic, 2008   ISBN: 978-0545037228

It is time for all the students at the Barkadelphia School to choose a new school president. And dog who gets fifty paw prints can run in the election. Straight away Tiffany – the most popular dog with the girls in the school – and Charles – the most popular dog with the boys – begin their campaigns to get their fifty paw prints. In no time at all they have got what they need to run in the election.

Otto watches the goings on and wonders why Tiffany and Charles are doing so well. After all "they don't care about anybody but themselves." Would one of these two really make a good school president?

Otto decides that he will run in the election too. Unlike Tiffany and Charles, Otto sets about finding out what the hopes and concerns of his fellow students are. He consults everyone, even the youngest kindergarteners. In the meantime Tiffany and Charles start slinging insults at one another. Their campaigns against each other become really nasty. Will their tactics win the election for one of them?

In this wonderful picture book Rosemary Wells gives her readers a very realistic picture of what can happen in an election. She chooses a school environment for her story, which is one which children can relate to, but the events which take place in the days leading up to the election are not that different from the ones that we see on a local, state, or national level. Children will see very clearly how unpleasant and meaningless negative campaigning can be, and how important it is to choose people who really mean to do what they can for the electorate. Bravo Otto for taking the high ground and for caring about his ?constituents,' and bravo Rosemary Wells for helping children to understand the politics of an election.