Kid Presidents: True Tales of Childhood from America’s Presidents
Written by David Stabler*
Illustrated by Doogie Horner
Quirk Books 10/28/2014
216 pages Age 8—12
EVERY PRESIDENT STARTED OUT AS A KID
“Forget the legends. Ignore the tall tales. The kids who grew up to be president weren’t superheroes. They had regular-kid problems just like you. John F. Kennedy hand hated his big brother. Lyndon Johnson pulled pranks in class. Barack Obama was bothered by bullies. And Bill Clinton was crazy clumsy (he once broke his leg jumping rope). Kid Presidents tells all of their stories and ore with full-color cartoon illustrations on every page. History has never been this much fun!” [book jacket]
Kid Presidents tells the story of sixteen presidents including George Washington—who never chopped down a cherry tree—and Barack Obama—who received a gibbon ape as a gift. Every president had a childhood filled with the same things as kids today. They had friends, though one had none. Some had trouble in school or trouble at home, and at least one was an extremely angry young boy. Some were well-liked, good students, and helpful at home. Despite decades between them, “boys will be boys.”
Ulysses Grant, at age eight, made a bad barter for a horse. He told the seller the most he could pay ($25), and, of course, $25 became the seller’s asking price. Word spread fast and kids started calling Ulysses “Useless.” Ulysses did not barter as his father instructed him, but being called Useless was cruel, as kids often are. Teachers could be cruel, as Herbert Hoover found out on his report card comment section:
“A fat little boy, always reading.”
John F Kennedy’s teacher was not thrilled with him,
“Jack studies at the last minute,
keeps appointments late,
has little sense of material values,
and can seldom locate his possessions.”
Kennedy sure doesn’t sound like presidential material, but sure enough, he became president number 35. Kid Presidents will make you laugh more often than not, and when not laughing, you will be grinning. Our past presidents, and our current, had normal childhoods. They schemed and dreamed just like kids today. Some were poor, some rich, but most where in-between. These presidents, as boys, did dumb things, held odd jobs, and had weird nicknames. Here are a few:
Accident-prone: Jimmy Carter shot his sister and Dwight Eisenhower stabbed his brother in the eye.
Clumsy: Harry Truman broke his collarbone—while combing his hair and Rutherford B. Hayes fell into hot coals—while putting on his pants.
Pranks (or bad boys?): Andrew Jackson moved outhouses, so the owner couldn’t find it, and John F. Kennedy stole people’s milk and then sold it back to them.
Nicknames: Barack Obama was “the Little Duck,” Gerald Ford was “Junie,” and John F. Kennedy was “Rat Face.”
(There is more to each of the above, but those stories are for you to read.)
Kid Presidents has a childhood tale for sixteen presidents, but there are snippets about many more, if not all. Kid Presidents makes for an entertaining, and often hilarious, read. Kids will love reading about the crazy stunts, fights, pranks, and physical problems these boys overcame and then went on to become an American president. If those boys could accomplish this, so can any boy—or girl—who reads this book. Even if becoming president is not their goal, reading Kid Presidents should help kids understand that childhood, good or bad, silly or sad, boring or brilliant, will have less affect on their future as adults than they may believe. “Permanent Records” don’t have the permanency as adults may tell you. If they did, Lyndon Johnson might not have served five years as president. Johnson was class clown, the cut-up who got into so much trouble, his father’s first words upon returning home often were,
“Well, what has Lyndon done today?”
The illustrations in Kid Presidents enhance each of the stories. The images of young boys-soon-to-be-presidents are also funny, often cartoonish, and always entertaining. A second edition of Kid Presidents, with stories covering those presidents missed in this edition, would be a nice follow-up.
*real name is Robert Schnakenberg
KID PREIDENTS: TRUE TALES OF CHILDHOOS CROM AMERICA’S PRESIDENTS.Text copyright © 2014 by David Stabler. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Doogie Horner. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Quirk Books, Philadelphia, PA.
Learn more about Kid Presidents HERE.
Book’s website: http://kidpresidents.com/
Meet the author, David Stabler, at his facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/davidkstabler
Meet the illustrator, Doogie Horner, at his twitter page: https://twitter.com/DoogieHorner
Find more middle grade books at the Quirk Books website: http://www.quirkbooks.com/
Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved
Review section word count = 625