________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 37. . . .May 25, 2012


Vote for Me!

Ben Clanton.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2012.
46 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
ISBN 978-1-55453-822-5.

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.

Review by Karyn Miehl.

** /4



While Vote for Me! has garnered many positive reviews, I am not sold on it. This book, a satire of politics, is one that could enhance or illustrate discussions of political elections, but many of the references in this book are American. Also, the use of red, white and blue throughout the book points to American roots.

internal art     In this 'election,' Elephant and Donkey each represent a different party and are vying for 'your' (the reader's) vote. Each character addresses the reader directly in between addressing each other. The book opens with Donkey appealing to the reader's pride through flattery: "Hey you! Yes, YOU with the great hair and that dazzling smile." Then Elephant counters by saying you are too smart to listen to Donkey. The characters then each try to get your attention, and your vote, by resorting to all the tricks we see in real-life politics --- use of statistics, bragging, bribery (with candy and peanuts), insults, claims to family ties with you, the reader, and literal and figurative mud-slinging.

      While these characters behave childishly, some of their words and actions are not things I want my four-year-old exposed to. I read this book with my son who smiled when Donkey offered him a sucker and when the two characters slung mud across the page at each other. I am glad, though, that he did not understand the insults slung as well: "Oaf! Dim-witted dolt! Smellypants! Belching beast of burden! Snot-sucker! Jumbo!" Even though this is a reflection of the nature of campaigning, it is not something I want my child to think is acceptable for him to say or do with/to his friends.

      Vote for Me! would serve well to illustrate various aspects of campaigning when a discussion of this topic accompanies its reading. I feel, though, for any young kids who do not understand the concept of politics, elections and campaigns, this book might be amusing but could also present questionable attitudes and behaviours.

      At least, after all of Donkey and Elephant's posturing and dynamic exchanges, it is the Independent Mouse who is elected "to become the Big Cheese."

Recommended with reservations.

Karyn Miehl, a mother of two and a secondary school English teacher, lives in Kingsville, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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