Madam President


Written and Illustrated by Lane Smith

Hyperion Books for Children, 2008

A president has many duties.

The plot in a nutshell:  A young girl copes with presidential duties.

The main character, Katy, runs through a list of responsibilities she has as President. They include giving executive orders (i.e., asking for more waffles), approving lunch, kissing babies, negotiating treaties (between a fighting cat and dog) and attending state funerals (of a friend’s pet frog). She chooses her cabinet and stays protected at all times, with a Secret Service cat always on the job. She’s a diplomat, but also has privileges such as the ability to veto tuna casserole in the cafeteria. She handles press conferences, keeps the peace and will even clean her room, if necessary, to lead by example. And at the end of the day, if a visiting dignitary stops by when she’s exhausted, she may just have the Vice President handle it.

Bookshelf favorite Lane Smith gives us a great character with big dreams in this delightfully funny story. Katy seems to be somewhat obsessed with presidents and great political figures from history (and considering that he’s written at least two other books about founding fathers and past presidents, I’m assuming Mr. Smith shares that obsession). For Parks & Recreation fans, this book felt like a glimpse of Leslie Knope as a child.


Nice pantsuit, Katy.  🙂

The illustrations provide most of the humor, showing us Katy’s interpretations of her responsibilities. For example, when she chooses her cabinet, we see that it consists mostly of toys, including a piggy bank as Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Potato Head as Secretary of Agriculture and a sock monkey as Secretary of Naps (is this a job I can apply for?). We also get to see the reactions of those around her who clearly don’t quite get why she is doing all of these things. And if you look closely, you’ll find lots of little nods to former presidents and other people (such as former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt) that Katy admires.

And what did we learn?  What I take away from this book is that no matter who does the job, being president is a lot of work.

Note:  I wrote this review in preparation for posting in early November, to celebrate what I thought (and hoped) would be the historic election of our first woman president.  Seems appropriate to post it today, when women are on the forefront of the resistance.


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