Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

See how they run: Campaign dreams, election schemes, and the race to the White H

See how they run: Campaign dreams, election schemes, and the race to the White H

Susan E. Goodman
Illustrator:  Elwood H. Smith 
For ages 12 and up
Bloomsbury U, 2008   ISBN: 978-1599901718

Every fall people all over the United States go into election mode. It is an exciting time, particularly every four years when Americans choose their new president. To get people interested in them, politicians put together campaigns. Among other things they make numerous speeches, they make promises, and they have their faces pasted put on posters, buttons, and stickers. Some create a huge organization to help them get where they want to be, spending enormous amounts of money on their campaigns. In the months leading up to the elections the voters need to find out what they can about these candidates so that they will be able to vote intelligently.

In this wonderfully written book Susan E. Goodman begins by looking at the early history of democracy. She then goes on to examine how democracy came to the United States, and how it developed over the years. It was not easy to bring this form of government to America, and it has not been easy to maintain it since it was put in place. There have been many ups and downs since 1776. Using her obvious appreciation and understanding for history, the author of this book takes a look at these moments. What makes this account so interesting and enjoyable is that the author uses humor in a clever and often laugh-out-loud funny way to make her story easier to follow and engaging.

Using both well known and obscure stories from history, the author shows her readers how America's political story is full of great, and decidedly not so great moments. On the one hand we have the inspiring speech Abraham Lincoln gave in Gettysburg, and on the other we have Richard Nixon's nefarious activities during his tenure in the White House. As the author says: "Democracy is a messy business." There are some people who "just don't play fair." Of course there are also those who "have worked hard to find and fix the problems."

With clever cartoon style illustrations to accompany the text, this is a book that readers will find enormously entertaining and enlightening. If you want to find out about the history of democracy in the United States then this is the place to look. If you want to find out about the good, bad, ugly, funny, sad, and downright peculiar things that have taken place in the American political arena then this is definitely the book for you.