Madam President: The Extraordinary, True (and Evolving) Story of Women in Politics

Book review by
Patricia Tauzer, Common Sense Media
Madam President: The Extraordinary, True (and Evolving) Story of Women in Politics Book Poster Image
Stories of strong women to inspire tween politic.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

The girl in the story gains self-confidence as she discovers what she wants to be when she grows up.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this collection of stories about women in politics is an inspiring introduction to amazing women from the United States, as well as a few from other countries. Though it's far from being complete, it presents a solid beginning. Stories of Hilary Clinton, Condoleeza Rice, and Nancy Pelosi have been revised and updated though names like Shirley Chisholm and Janet Reno are sadly missing.

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What's the story?

On one level, this is the story of the evolving role of women in politics, with short biographies of 23 politically influential trailblazers. But on another, it's about one girl's desire to become president and the reactions she gets when she tells her friends and family just what she wants to be. Person after person suggests some more practical, pragmatic way to be involved in politics -- something some other woman has already done: marry a president, vote for president, run for vice president, join Congress. She hears the stories of successful, powerful women but, though inspired, she isn't satisfied. Finally, with the words of the Constitution resonating in her ears, she reasserts herself, and the reader feels that somehow she's going to succeed.

Is it any good?

Catherine Thimmesh writes books in the hope that she will inspire girls toward leadership roles, in this case in the world of politics -- and this book certainly succeeds. The long-legged stride and beaming smile of the young girl on the cover, as she marches toward the White House with her presidential binder tucked under her arm, is a perfect image for the spirit of this book, which is optimistic and promising as well as being informative and entertaining.

Written in language that is fairly sophisticated, short two-four page sketches of 23 politically astute women are divided into six sections according to the kind of role each has played. Each short biography emphasizes a specific accomplishment, includes a poignant quotation, and is illustrated by a clever caricature. The six sections are nested in the outer story, which is the story of the girl as she deals with the suggestions of her family and friends. Taken together, and illustrated with remarkably expressive artwork, both strands join to make this an engaging, and inspirational book.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how women's roles in U.S. politics have changed between the time of Abigail Adams and today. What did each of these 23 women accomplish? How did their accomplishments help pave the way for women who followed them? And, of course, the biggest question that still remains: Can a girl become president?

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