During the 2016 election campaign, Cotsen began collecting American children’s books about contemporary politics with a sense of urgency that had been lacking previously. It seemed as if there were more of them than before and that fewer of their authors tried to keep partisan feelings under wraps. Satire was seeping into picture books in ways that pointed at the ebbing of the long-standing reluctance to protect children from the derisive and divisive. The balance between rudeness and reverence which seemed out of kilter then, is even more extreme after the turbulence of the Trump administration. After the last four years, we are not as confident as in 2016 about calling this election, but we still need to take our responsibilities as citizens seriously, no matter what our political affiliations.
Election Day is just around the corner (November 8th!). No matter your political affiliation, I think we can all agree it’s been a wild ride. . .
Since this election is contentious and unprecedented in so many ways, who better to remind us of the importance of our civic duty than Mr. Peanut?
Created by Joseph R. Fisher and brought to you by Planters Nut and Chocolate Company, The Historical and Educational Paint Book (1949), tells America’s children about important historical events in our history, explains our freedom-loving government structure, expresses the true character of American virtues, and advertises peanuts. . . all while providing blank illustrations for coloring!So, just in case you have forgotten why voting is an integral part of the democratic process, the folks at Planters are happy to remind you: But if you pay attention to the fine print above, you might be disappointed to learn that men (and only men) are deemed fit for the job of governance.
You might find that a little girl named Grace is a better fit for (class) president:
Grace for President (New York: Hyperion Books for Children, ©2008), written by Kelly Dipucchio and illustrated by Leuyen Pham, tells the story of a little girl who is puzzled and frustrated when she learns that America has never had a “girl president”. She decides to remedy the situation by declaring that she will become president some day, but that to begin her burgeoning political career, she’ll start with Woodrow Wilson Elementary’s mock election. But first, she’ll have to beat Thomas Cobb (and his burgeoning misogyny).Grace ran a great campaign. But as we might (unlikely) see in just a few weeks, sometimes a tight election comes down to just a few electoral votes: And with Wyoming secured, Grace was able to snag that magic number of 270 electoral votes, thus paving the way for her dream o, one day becoming president of the United States. But if you don’t want Grace to be the president of your school, it is always your unalienable right to choose Donald Trump as your principal (or maybe not):
A self-published endeavor, Trump for Principal is a “a children’s book for American grownups” written by Beth Schaefer and illustrated by Hasby Mubarok (Evanston, Illinois: Books On A Whim Inc., 2015). With a few illustrations that are just a little too crude to show on in a blog post about children’s literature, this satirical picture book portrays what a Trump Principality might look like, bolstered with bonafide Trump quotes to boot:But of course, if Trump’s not your guy, who else is there?
Who could follow in the footsteps of these great leaders and role models?
Don’t worry, our next book will tell you…
Written by John Winter and illustrated by Raul Colon, Hillary. . . is not a satire (New York: Schwartz & Wade Books, ). This picture book biography follows the courageous and industrious life of Hillary Clinton and her long career in politics. Who could forget the important advances she made for America when she became the inspiration for the “Texts from Hillary” meme with her iconic sunglasses?And, of course, this riveting and unbiased picture books ends with Hilary Clinton’s silhouette facing the dawn of America’s glorious future: Who said picture books aren’t propaganda?
Don’t forget to vote!