Sprinkles reviews children’s books about Barack Obama

As the United States is approaching another presidential election, Sprinkles thought that it could be a good idea to review children’s books about a recent president: President Barack Obama. Here Sprinkles shares her candid opinions on five books about him, with the goal of informing parents of young bunnies. Perhaps other young bunnies (and their parents too) will find one or more of these books worth the read to learn from and get inspired by.

Sprinkles writes about Who Is Barack Obama? by Roberta Edwards and John O'Brien, President Barack Obama by A.D. Largie and Sabrina Pichardo, Barack Obama by Stephen Krensky, Barack Obama by Caroline Crosson Gilpin, and Barack Obama: Out of Many, One by Shana Corey and James Bernardin.
Sprinkles writes about Who Is Barack Obama? by Roberta Edwards and John O’Brien, President Barack Obama by A.D. Largie and Sabrina Pichardo, Barack Obama by Stephen Krensky, Barack Obama by Caroline Crosson Gilpin, and Barack Obama: Out of Many, One by Shana Corey and James Bernardin.

School-age bunnies often need to find people to write about for school reports. Most of the books I review in this post found their way to the book bunnies household as the younger bunnies were writing reports about their personal heroes, about well-known world leaders, and about past presidents. And occasionally young readers get their paws on books about inspiring people and just read them on their own. The five books I review in this post are all suitable for both kinds of reading goals. If your little one is curious about president Barack Obama, just keep reading to see which of these five books might be the right one for them!

In what follows I organize and present my thoughts in the order of reader level. By that I mean that the youngest bunnies will likely find it easier to read the books I mention first, and the older ones, those that are more independent readers and those that can handle more challenging sentences, might get more details and all around just more out of the books that come up later.

In this photo, Sprinkles organized the books in this review in the order of reader level: President Barack Obama by A.D. Largie and Sabrina Pichardo, Barack Obama by Caroline Crosson Gilpin, Barack Obama: Out of Many, One by Shana Corey and James Bernardin, Who Is Barack Obama? by Roberta Edwards and John O'Brien, and Barack Obama by Stephen Krensky.
In this photo, Sprinkles organized the books in this review in the order of reader level: President Barack Obama by A.D. Largie and Sabrina Pichardo, Barack Obama by Caroline Crosson Gilpin, Barack Obama: Out of Many, One by Shana Corey and James Bernardin, Who Is Barack Obama? by Roberta Edwards and John O’Brien, and Barack Obama by Stephen Krensky.

The first book I will describe for this review is President Barack Obama, written by A. D. Largie and illustrated by Sabrina Pichardo. A slim and mid-size paperback, this book is aimed at younger readers. It can be read out loud, as there is some basic rhyme built into the text on each page. I wished that some of this rhyming was made more visible by formatting of the text or by punctuation. For example the text “Barack Obama proved that you can can (sic) do anything that you believe as long as you hope for the best and focus you can achieve.” would be easier to read if it were written more visibly in two lines and / or with more punctuation:

Barack Obama proved that you can do anything that you believe,
As long as you hope for the best and focus, you can achieve.

Still, a parent used to reading books out loud for their little ones will probably figure out the rhythm soon enough.

There was also a small factual error in the book. Obama was elected to the Illinois state senate in 1996, and to the United States Senate in 2004. But again it is not a big enough deal; a parent can easily correct it while reading.

Despite these two minor issues, I would say that this can be a good book to teach young ones about President Obama. A part of a “Boys Grow Up To Be Heroes” book series, the book emphasizes that Obama was teased for his name when he was young but he persevered; he worked hard on his classes and on building community; and he wanted to bring people of many differences together. And after all that, he was the first black president! This can certainly be an inspiring read.

Next, I will describe Caroline Crosson Gilpin’s Barack Obama, published by National Geographic Kids. Rated Level 2 by the publisher, the book is meant for transitional readers who are getting comfortable reading on their own. The font size is large and the pictures are colorful. After a brief introduction starting on January 20, 2009, the day of the inauguration of President Barack Hussein Obama, most of the rest of the book is organized chronologically, and ends the story with a quote from Obama himself:

“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.”

President Barack Obama

The book ends with a seven-question quiz, and a one-page glossary describing terms like “civil rights lawyer”, “community organizer”, and “multiracial”. All in all, this is a good book, telling the story with just enough details, and besides the facts, you also get a little dose of the inspiration that Obama’s presidency offered for many.

Barack Obama: Out of Many, One, written by Shana Corey and illustrated by James Bernardin, is also aimed toward the same level of readers, I believe. The book’s publisher Random House ranks it “Step 3: Reading on Your Own” and this is still written for the young reader, who is not yet quite ready for the chapter book. President Obama’s story is told in simple and clear language, from the beginning up to the time of writing of the book, during Obama’s second term. We start with:

We all have stories–each and every one of us. This is one of those stories. It is the story of a skinny little boy with a funny name and how he became part of America’s history.

and end along similar lines:

But the story is not complete. In fact it’s just started. Where does your story fit in the American story? You could help your neighbor or your school. You could even grow up to be president! Anything is possible–what happens next is up to you!

The illustrations are appealingly hand-drawn, and are peppered with actual photographic images. My favorite was the last one, right under the words I quoted above, where President Obama is looking at some school kids through a ginormous magnifying glass. And luckily due to copyright laws that say “a work of the U.S. federal government” will be on public domain, I can insert it right here:

United States President Barack Obama visits a pre-kindergarten classroom at the College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center in Decatur, Georgia on 14 February 2013. Source Wikimedia via White House, accessed at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Barack_Obama_through_a_magnifying_glass.jpg on September 19, 2020.

Next I will share my thoughts on Who Is Barack Obama? by Roberta Edwards and John O’Brien. This book is clearly directed towards readers who are comfortable with chapter books, as it is one, and at over one hundred pages, it is actually quite an informative read. Its twelve chapters tell a chronological story, with a great many details, including a description of the Democratic nomination process and the competition between Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton at the time before the 2008 presidential elections. The author seems to trust that her reader can handle both details and large-picture connections; I always appreciate authors who respect their readers! The book ends with two timelines, one for Obama’s life and the other noting some world events relevant to the narrative of the book.

I believe that this would make an excellent choice for the young reader who is curious to learn about President Obama. Illustrated in simple black and white sketches by John O’Brien, the book tells the story of one of the most inspiring political figures of our times, and situates his story within the wider American context.

The last book I will describe in this review is Stephen Krensky’s Barack Obama. This book also targets a similar audience but perhaps expects a little bit more from the reader. The font size is much smaller, the sentences are a little bit more complex, and the book overall has more the flavor of a historical biography than that of a children’s book. This is not particularly a disadvantage, however, and should definitely not deter any young reader wishing to learn more about the first black president of the United States. The details and the historical conextualization that were strengths for the previous book are also a strength for this one, and the photographic images add a lot to the book’s appeal.

The longest of the books reviewed in this blog post, at 125 pages, Krensky’s Barack Obama is a good text for those young bunnies writing reports or essays about the president, and it can be a good resource for learning more about his life and accomplishments. (Among other things, it contains a neat timeline and several references for further reading and study.) However, it does end on the inauguration day of 2009, and we do not learn much about his accomplishments as the forty-fourth president of the United States. Still, I would recommend it for those bunnies looking to learn more.

Sprinkles thinks that if you or your little ones want to learn about President Barack Obama, there are a lot of great resources out there!
Sprinkles thinks that if you or your little ones want to learn about President Barack Obama, there are a lot of great resources out there!

But perhaps those same young bunnies are up to learn even more about this man? Then I’d urge them and their parents to consider diving into one of Obama’s own books. Many parents will likely think Obama’s 2006 book The Audacity of Hope might be too political (or politically motivated) for their young ones, but his first book, Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, written in 1995, tells this man’s tale up to that time in lyrical but not overly dramatic language. This is a beautiful coming-of-age story, and it is perhaps uniquely American. Obama tries in it to open up, understand (for himself–and to our benefit), and come to terms with his own multicultural multiracial heritage. It can be a challenging read for preteens, but for tweens and teenagers, it is bound to be inspiring. And I’d say, it can be especially so, knowing that this young man narrating his own story would become the forty-fourth president of the United States in a little less than fifteen years from the end of the book.

After spending all this time reading about books about president Barack Obama written for younger audiences, Sprinkles proposes that you also consider Obama's own book Dreams From My Father as a possible next step.
After spending all this time reading about books about president Barack Obama written for younger audiences, Sprinkles proposes that you also consider Obama’s own book Dreams From My Father as a possible next step.

Marshmallow reviews Lucy and Andy Neanderthal: Bad to the Bones by Jeffrey Brown

Marshmallow reviews Lucy & Andy Neanderthal: Bad to the Bones, the third book in the Lucy & Andy Neanderthal series of Jeffrey Brown.

Marshmallow has reviewed two books by Jeffrey Brown before: Lucy and Andy Neanderthal and Lucy and Andy Neanderthal: The Stone Cold Age. Today she writes about the third book in this series: Lucy and Andy Neanderthal: Bad to the Bones.

Marshmallow reviews Lucy and Andy Neanderthal: Bad to the Bones (the third book in the Lucy and Andy Neanderthal series) by Jeffrey Brown.
Marshmallow reviews Lucy and Andy Neanderthal: Bad to the Bones (the third book in the Lucy and Andy Neanderthal series) by Jeffrey Brown.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you liked the previous books in the Lucy and Andy Neanderthal series, or more generally if you enjoy reading comic books, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with spoilers): We meet Lucy and Andy Neanderthal in Lucy and Andy Neanderthal. They live in the Stone Age with their brother, Danny, their parents, Mr. Daryl, Phil, and Margaret. In the second book The Stone Cold Age, they meet a clan of humans, and they work with to them to find them a home, a cave. 

In this third book, Lucy and her best friend Sasha, one of the humans, start the Super Adventure Explorers Discovery Club. The human children, together with Lucy and Andy, scout around the area and meet some other people. These other people are not very nice, especially when the Super Adventure Explorers Discovery Club discovers their plan to try and take over the cave that the humans live in. The Super Adventure Explorers Discovery Club immediately starts preparations to defend the cave from the newcomers. 

Marshmallow is pointing the reader to the pages of Lucy and Andy Neanderthal: Bad to the Bones (the third book in the Lucy and Andy Neanderthal series) by Jeffrey Brown, where Andy burns things up in order to eradicate lice.
Marshmallow is pointing the reader to the pages of Lucy and Andy Neanderthal: Bad to the Bones (the third book in the Lucy and Andy Neanderthal series) by Jeffrey Brown, where Andy burns things up in order to eradicate lice.

Marshmallow’s Review:  Lucy and Andy’s third book, Bad to the Bones, is a great read for all bunnies of all ages (Caramel really liked reading it too!). I really enjoyed this book because it was funny and the characters were familiar. It is probably a good idea to read the first two books (they are both very good books!), because the characters are very interesting, and knowing their characteristics in the previous books is helpful. But if you want to just read this one alone, then this is a fun read too. 

The Club members set up multiple defenses and then they act like they just happened to be there, and the reader realizes that they are actually part of the defense. For example the newcomers try to steal some of their soup, but the Super Adventures Explorers Discovery Club make it to taste terrible. 

Bad to the Bones has really funny drawings of really funny characters. My favorite characters are Andy or Lucy because they have a lot of faces that they can make and they are also some of the main characters. The author Jeffrey Brown does a very good job in making characters that readers will easily want to read about, and the drawing are really funny. 

Just like the first two books in the series, this is a graphic novel that has a mix of facts about the lives of Neanderthals and a lot of other subjects. Two modern characters Pam and Eric show up here and there, at the end of most chapters, and tell us these facts. I definitely know a lot more about Neanderthals than I did before I began reading this series.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.

Marshmallow rates Lucy and Andy Neanderthal: Bad to the Bones (the third book in the Lucy and Andy Neanderthal series) by Jeffrey Brown 95%.
Marshmallow rates Lucy and Andy Neanderthal: Bad to the Bones (the third book in the Lucy and Andy Neanderthal series) by Jeffrey Brown 95%.

Marshmallow reviews BrainJuice American History: Fresh Squeezed! by Carol Diggory Shields

Today Marshmallow shares some thoughts on a little book of history: BrainJuice: American History, Fresh Squeezed! written in poetic form by Carol Diggory Shields and illustrated by Richard Thompson.

Marshmallow reviews BrainJuice: American History, Fresh Squeezed! written in poetic form by Carol Diggory Shields and illustrated by Richard Thompson.
Marshmallow reviews BrainJuice: American History, Fresh Squeezed! written in poetic form by Carol Diggory Shields and illustrated by Richard Thompson.

Marshmallow’s quick take: If you are looking for an amusing history book or like poetry, this might be the book for you.

Too many books? No time to read?
BrainJuice is just what you need.
We squeezed the facts, threw in some rhyme,
Twice the knowledge in half the time.

Whether slowly sipped or gulped with gusto,
BrainJuice
is:
Nutritionally Balanced!
Masterfully distilled!
Unconditionally guaranteed pure!
Totally concentrated;

And
100% refreshing!

This is the poem on the back of this BrainJuice book. BrainJuice American History Fresh Squeezed! explains history in short, memorable poems. It teaches the reader about American history since 245,000,000 BCE when the dinosaurs were around. This is the first poem in the book:

THE FIRST
The first Americans who roamed the prairie
Were kind of big and kind of scary
Some lived alone, some in a bunch,
A few of them ate the others for lunch.
Some were gentle, some were mean,
Some were spotted or dotted or green.
They hissed and growled and roared great roars—
The first Americans were dinosaurs.

The book contains a total of forty-one poems and ends with a moving poem about the Statue of Liberty, called The Lady.

Marshmallow is pointing at one of the poems in BrainJuice: American History, Fresh Squeezed! written in poetic form by Carol Diggory Shields and illustrated by Richard Thompson. This is about Christopher Columbus and his arrival in the Americas.
Marshmallow is pointing at one of the poems in BrainJuice: American History, Fresh Squeezed! written in poetic form by Carol Diggory Shields and illustrated by Richard Thompson. This is about Christopher Columbus and his arrival in the Americas.

Marshmallow’s review: Some people think that history is boring, but this book is proof that it is not. The poems are written in a style that will entertain and teach the reader about the American Revolution, the Presidents, and the “discovery” of the Americas. It is a great book for parents to get for their children / child if they want them to be interested in the fascinating history of America. But I think that this would be a good book for all ages. 

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It is a great read for those who think that history is just memorizing dates and the events that happened on those dates. The poems are short so they are easy to memorize so soon you will know all of the main events that occurred in American history quickly and efficiently. Anyone who wants to learn about American history can get down some of the basic facts with this book.

Marshmallow is reading one of the poems in BrainJuice: American History, Fresh Squeezed! written in poetic form by Carol Diggory Shields and illustrated by Richard Thompson. This is about the presidents.
Marshmallow is reading one of the poems in BrainJuice: American History, Fresh Squeezed! written in poetic form by Carol Diggory Shields and illustrated by Richard Thompson. This is about the presidents.

The pictures in the book add a lot to the poems. I especially liked the pictures that had writing on them. Some of the pictures are funny and others are just more descriptive.

The pages of the book are split into two parts. There is a thin pink strip on the top of each page which is a timeline that starts in 245,000,000 BCE (when the dinosaurs are around) and ends on September 11, 2001 when “Over 3,000 are killed in terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.” The rest of the page typically contains a poem or a picture associated to the time period.

Another good thing about this fantastic book is that it explains well some very difficult events that might be challenging to explain to young children. It describes the Trail of Tears, for example, but it iis not all inclusive of course. For example it does not mention Japanese internment camps, which I read about in They Called Us Enemy.

Marshmallow’s rating: 95%.

Marshmallow rates BrainJuice: American History, Fresh Squeezed! written in poetic form by Carol Diggory Shields and illustrated by Richard Thompson 95%.
Marshmallow rates BrainJuice: American History, Fresh Squeezed! written in poetic form by Carol Diggory Shields and illustrated by Richard Thompson 95%.

Marshmallow reviews Lucy and Andy Neanderthal: Stone Cold Age by Jeffrey Brown

Marshmallow reviews the second book in Jeffrey Brown’s Lucy and Andy Neanderthal series: Lucy and Andy Neanderthal: Stone Cold Age.

Last week Marshmallow reviewed They Called Us Enemy, written by the Star Trek veteran George Takei together with Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott, and illustrated by Harmony Becker. Today she wanted to review a more light-hearted graphic novel and she chose the second book of Jeffrey Brown’s Lucy & Andy Neanderthal series: Lucy and Andy Neanderthal: Stone Cold Age. For her review of the first book, Lucy and Andy Neanderthal, see here. (Caramel reviewed a book by Jeffrey Brown too; you might enjoy his review of My Teacher is a Robot.)

Marshmallow reviews Lucy and Andy Neanderthal: Stone Cold Age by Jeffrey Brown.
Marshmallow reviews Lucy and Andy Neanderthal: Stone Cold Age by Jeffrey Brown.

Marshmallow’s Overview:  If you like graphic novels and movies or books about the ice age, then this might be the book for you. You can enjoy it even if you have not read the first book (or my review of it).

Marshmallow’s Summary: Lucy and Andy Neanderthal are living in the Ice Age and now are friends with a clan of humans. Some of the Neanderthals like Lucy are best friends with some of the humans (Sasha), but her brother, Andy, is not enjoying the humans that are living in his cave with him. One human child, named Richard, especially annoys him by making fun of him. But he does make friends with a boy named Tommy who is scared of cave bears.

Lucy and Andy have fun with their new friends. They go to the beach and collect shells. They also face a cave bear. In the end, Sasha’s mom has a new child and so Sasha becomes an older sister.

Marshmallow is reading Lucy and Andy Neanderthal: Stone Cold Age by Jeffrey Brown.
Marshmallow is reading Lucy and Andy Neanderthal: Stone Cold Age by Jeffrey Brown.

Marshmallow’s Review: I enjoyed this book very much. Like the last book I reviewed this is a graphic novel. It has funny drawing and will make readers read it in one sitting. This book has excellent characters that are amusing, relatable, and interesting. It also has facts that intertwine fiction and nonfiction. 

“Fact and fiction cleverly collide in this prehistoric romp.

Shelf Awareness

The above quote describes this excellent book well. It is fun and entertaining to think about how humans and neanderthals must have interacted. The book is full of facts but is also completely hilarious. If you enjoyed the first book, you will certainly enjoy this one too.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading and rereading this terrific book about Neanderthals and the Ice Age. The author, Jeffrey Brown, draws hilarious drawings that describe that characters personalities. This is a very good book that can be read and reread over and over again.  I would recommend it to any and all bunnies who like books and want to laugh out loud while reading.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 100%.

Marshmallow rates Lucy and Andy Neanderthal: Stone Cold Age by Jeffrey Brown 100%.
Marshmallow rates Lucy and Andy Neanderthal: Stone Cold Age by Jeffrey Brown 100%.