Thursday, September 02, 2010

Mr. President Goes to School

Mr. President Goes to School
by Rick Walton
illustrated by Brad Sneed
Peachtree, 2010
review copy provided by the publisher

Whenever I start getting overwhelmed by all the paperwork and meetings and soothing of petty quarrels on the playground that my job entails, I think of the mountains of work the President has to face day after day for four years (and with hostile legislators and press corps thrown in for extra measure), and somehow, I can face another day of lunch duty or another set of papers to grade.

In Walton's humorous look at an overwhelmed President, the way he manages to survive the demands of nutball splinter groups (the National Gopher Society), uncooperative cabinet members (can you believe what the VP did to the ping pong table?!?), and quarreling world leaders ("It's the Sticks and Stones issue again sir. What should we do?") is to put on a disguise, walk a few blocks from the White House, and rejoin his kindergarten classroom. It is there that he remembers everything he learned that will help him to do his job: "It's hard to solve problems when you're hungry," "Polite people always raise their hands," and the hokey pokey is what it's all about.

When Mr. President returns to work, he and the grumpy leaders of Bulrovia and Snortburg sit crisscross applesauce on the carpet, take turns talking nicely, eat cookies and milk, and do the hokey pokey. (Headlines the next day read, "Hokey Pokey Leads to Okey Dokey.")

If only it were that easy.

And yet...isn't it?

I nominate Mrs. Appletree, the teacher who reminds us that we really did learn all we need to know in Kindergarten, if only we would have the courage to live by those simple rules, for our Cool Teachers in Children's Literature.

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