Gr 4-6—With cartoonish illustrations that will attract fans of Jeff Kinney's "The Diary of a Wimpy Kid" and Rachel Renee Russel's "The Dork Diaries," this informative offering leaves no presidential childhood rock unturned. Children will enjoy the parallels of these presidential lives and their own, from Franklin Roosevelt's helicopter mother to Hebert Hoover's friendships with Native Americans to Barack Obama's tumultuous years in Indonesia. Disorganized kids will be happy to read that John F. Kennedy was given a scathing report card that once stated that he "can seldom locate his possessions." Kids will especially enjoy the section on pranks pulled by previous presidents. Oddly, this book is not organized chronologically, nor is each segment broken down into any rational sequence. Overall, the style is funny and lighthearted. Being a kid isn't always easy, even for those on the path for greatness, like many of these men. The further reading at the end of book provides a nice resource for those who want to learn more about their favorite resident of the Oval Office. Give this fun and accessible title to "Who Was..." series (Penguin) fans or reluctant readers who enjoys history.—Keith Klang, Port Washington Public Library, NYCopyright 2014 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
"Every president in United States history started out like you and me," writes Stabler (a pseudonym for author Robert Schnakenberg), before going on to prove it. The stories he's assembled show how the young lives of the men who became president encompassed nearly everything that kids go through today, including blended families (Lincoln), helicopter parenting (F.D.R.), crushes (Nixon), bullies (Eisenhower, Kennedy), being the new kid (Obama), and odd obsessions that drive parents crazy ("Herbert Hoover once ate nothing but pears for two whole days"). The text is straightforward, upbeat, and resolutely apolitical, organized into easy-to-digest sections that alternate between stories of individual presidents and roundups on themes like chores, jobs, and what teachers thought of the presidents as students. "When you grow up, you're either going to be governor or get in a lot of trouble," said Bill Clinton's sixth-grade teacher (though no citation for this or any other quotation is provided). Horner's spot cartoons ensure readers won't mistake this for a history textbook and contribute some funny metafictional moments: "We need strawberries!" says Theodore Roosevelt's mother in one drawing. "Stop waving to the readers and go!" Ages 8-12. (Oct.)■Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.