A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Nikki Grimes has based her inspirational book on Barack Obama's own memoir, simplifying its content and message for young readers. Both the author and the illustrator have previously won the Corretta Scott King award.
What's the story?
This is Barack Obama's story. Based on his memoir, this book presents important events of his life, especially his childhood, while tracing the threads of hope and courage as they weave throughout, bringing him to the moment when he decides to run for president. Obama is presented as a child of mixed heritage, from a divorced though very supportive family, who struggles with his own identity and is consumed with an almost overwhelming desire to help the poor people of the world. Throughout the story, a fictional mother and son read along, and they discuss each event and feeling. The boy asks innocent questions, the mother answers and explains, and in the end the little boy shows how much he's inspired by the story.
Is it any good?
This is more than a biography; it's a song of courage, hope, and inspiration. Language that is both poetic and elegant presents the story while also creating a very heartfelt, moving tone that goes beyond the ordinary. Though some may argue that this is the somewhat glorified substance of a myth-in-the-making, young readers especially will come away with a genuine understanding of what makes Barack Obama such a unique and capable person, and will probably also be inspired.
The technique of using a narrator (the mother talking to her son) and Bryan Collier's stirring illustrations add another level of truth to the upbeat message of change and promise.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the new president's life. They can join the mother and son who, as part of the narrative, talk about the events in Barack Obama's life that gave him the hope and strength to run for, and become, president of the United States. Who is Barack Obama, and where did he come from? Who were his parents and grandparents? Why did he live in Kansas, Hawaii, and Indonesia when his father was from Kenya? How did being apart from his father make him feel? Though he was sad, he was still hopeful. What helped him feel that way? When he saw all the poor people in the world, he wanted to help them. How is he doing that? How did going to school help him? What gave him courage, and hope? How do you think he feels now that he is becoming president? How do you feel about it?