Saturday, November 01, 2008

Tales from the Campaign Trail: President Pennybaker by Kate Feiffer

It all started with a simple request from young Luke Pennybaker:

"Dad, can I watch TV?"

"Did you clean your room? Did you brush your teeth this morning? Did you feed the fish? Did you ask your mother if she needs help with anything?"

Now Luke is a normal kid. He hasn't done any of this stuff, but he willingly sets out to make things right with his dad. But when he reports back and asks again if he can watch TV, he gets a maddening response:


The unfairness of it all calls for some deep thought, and out of that reflection Luke Pennybaker decides that the only remedy for the unfairness of life is to run for president. A hot slogan, "Pennies for Pennybaker," gets the donations rolling in, and soon Luke, with Lily, his dog and running mate, hits the campaign trail. "I promise to make life fair!" he says grandly. "Are you in the Democratic or the Republican party?" journalists ask. "I'm in the Birthday Party!" Luke responds.

The voters rally to his call for fairness, and although he and Lily are turned away from casting their votes for themselves, the grownups respond with a landslide of votes for the fairness ticket and Luke soon finds himself in the White House.

But when Luke puts his platform into action, he runs into immediate problems. Birthday presents for everyone? But the mayor of New York doesn't like hers. A senator is allergic to the free ice cream. The Governor of California doesn't eat chocolate, and the dog belonging to a Cincinnati councilman turns up his nose at the free bones. Everybody has a problem and everybody wants President Pennybaker to fix it.

It wasn't fair! President Pennybaker decides to resign, leaving his canine vice president to deal with the problems of the presidency. Lily waves to the departing prez from her desk in the Oval Office as Luke heads for home, happy at the thought of feeding the fish.

In her President Pennybaker (Paula Wiseman Books), Feiffer's tongue-in-cheek text and noted illustrator Diane Goode's appealing drawings keep this light-hearted political story bouncing along to its predicable ending. Pair this one with Doreen Cronin's jolly Duck for President, for plenty of pre-election fun.



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