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Bad Kitty for President

Smart, savvy civics lesson served with lots of laughs.

What parents need to know

Educational value

This slim book has astonishing breadth: It explains the difference between PACs and 527s, shows how media can help or hurt a campaign and how it can be manipulated, details every step of the process from the primaries to Election Day, and delves into the role played by money and influential supporters. Starred words are explained in an entertaining glossary, and spreads with "Uncle Murray's Fun Facts" walk through some of the drier aspects. 

Positive messages

Sleazy tactics aren't rewarded. Kitty's transgressions are very funny but always clearly examples of what not to do. 

Positive role models
The narrator is firm in his reprimands for Kitty's terrible behavior. And some of the secondary characters -- including Old Kitty and Strange Kitty -- are solid examples of decency and integrity.
Violence & scariness
Not applicable

Nothing explicit, but language includes "heck," "holy %#@$," and "jerk."

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that despite a bit of coarseness, this latest in the New York Times-bestselling Bad Kitty series is a terrific primer on the election process. Kitty makes plenty of ugly missteps, including defecating on someone's lawn and smearing her opponent in an attack ad that she claims to know nothing about. Kids will get a healthy dose of skepticism along with their civics lesson.

Parents say

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What's the story?

In BAD KITTY FOR PRESIDENT, Kitty is fed up with stray cats coming into her neighborhood, so she decides to do something about it by running for president of the Neighborhood Cat Club. She tries to crown herself president but learns that it takes a lot of work to get elected. Still, she wins the primary (by kissing a baby) and becomes the nominee. Then she has to seek endorsements, hit the campaign trail, and figure out how to use mass media to her advantage. After a lively debate with her opponent, she and her fellow cats head to the polls on Election Day to find out who will lead the neighborhood cats for the next four years.

Is it any good?


Bad Kitty is expertly used here to humorously illustrate the best and worst of the American election process.

The idea of democratically electing a president is easy enough for a young child to understand -- but the actual mechanics of the process are much harder to grasp. Bad Kitty is certainly true to her moniker: She's selfish, devious, rude, and petty. (Insert your own joke about politicians here.)  

Nick Bruel, author-illustrator of seven previous bad Kitty books, including A Bad Kitty Christmas, presents a nice piece of political humor built on the metaphorical race to lead the Neighborhood Cat Club. Kids will be so tickled by Kitty's antics -- she mistakes the idea of a "grassroots campaign" to mean she should use a lawn as a litter box, for example, and a video of her going "nutso" goes viral on "VueTube" -- that they'll sail through a complex discussion of American politics. Unlike more idealistic introductions to civics, this slim volume manages to equip kids with the know-how to be savvy participants in the democratic process. Bruel's winning illustrations add to the fun.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what motivates people to run for office. Kitty is apathetic until she realizes that it could be to her advantage to hold power. Why do politicians seek office?

  • How are political ads like ads for products? How are they different? Talk about how candidates use media.

  • Families also can talk about the intended safeguards in the election process, from PACs and 527 groups to laws about buying gifts and slandering opponents. The narrator is sometimes skeptical, even saying 527 groups seem "fishy." What do you think?

  • Kitty runs for office because she's unhappy about stray cats coming into her neighborhood. Read the debate moderator's question about the stray-cats issue: What do you think about the problem?

Book details

Author:Nick Bruel
Genre:For Beginning Readers
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Roaring Brook Press
Publication date:January 17, 2012
Number of pages:144

This review of Bad Kitty for President was written by

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Kid, 8 years old March 17, 2012
Kid, 12 years old March 7, 2012

The best book ever

this is a good book to learn of what you should do and what you should not do.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models