Books — Vote!

Voting matters—an easy-to-read civics lesson

Starting the GOTV on the pre-K crowd

By Lisa Parsons [lparsons@hippopress.com]

Vote! By Eileen Christelow, Clarion Books, 2003, 47 pages.

Here’s a children’s book that makes voting look like the big fun party it really is.

With bright, cartoony colors, Eileen Christelow (Vermont-residing author and illustrator of several “Five Little Monkeys” stories) explains a small-town mayoral election from campaign to recount—and beyond, when, Christelow is careful to note, the elected official is still responsible to all her constituents, not just the ones who voted for her.

Two candidates, a Smith and a Brown, run for mayor as the town’s kids and some inquisitive dogs look on.

Important questions are answered, like why we vote instead of flipping a coin, why candidates want money, who can vote (and who couldn’t a hundred years ago), what a political party is and do you have to join one, and what it means to “register” to vote. A small timeline and glossary close out the book.

Even the most straightlaced questions and answers are enlivened by Christelow’s happy, brisk illustrations, as well as by her two dogs who add running commentary in and out of the margins (kind of like those two old guys on The Muppet Show.) One especially laughable moment in the story is when candidate Smith opens the morning paper to find there’s no coverage of the issues, only stories about the ruckus her dog momentarily caused at last night’s debate.

Christelow likewise gives a humorous but sincere wink toward $250-a-plate dinners and everyone’s inner puppy’s desire to keep the opposition from voting (“Sparky! Stop that! This country is a democracy!”). And she seriously broaches the topic of misleading advertising.

On the inside dust jacket, Christelow explains her interest in early voter education, stemming from teachers’ comments that there weren’t enough books available to help explain voting to kids.

Vote! covers all the electoral bases and makes it fun.

For more on Christelow’s work, check out her web site at www.christelow.com.

- Lisa Parsons

 
2004 HippoPress LLC | Manchester, NH