President Squid

Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
President Squid Book Poster Image
Silly underwater tale pokes fun at boastful wannabe leaders.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Lighthearted springboard for discussion of what makes a good leader and how people choose their president.

Positive Messages

What you do is far more important than what you say. Bragging turns others away from you. Being a leader requires real effort and personal sacrifice.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Sea creatures look peeved, but they simply ignore the squid's boasting and bossing. Once the squid takes action to help a fish in need, they celebrate his good deed and show him great respect. Squid, however, doesn't absorb the lesson and ends up driving away his new supporters.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that President Squid, by Aaron Reynolds, is political satire for the picture-book set, pointing out how ridiculous (and isolating) it is to behave like a bossypants braggart. The pompous squid discovers being president isn't easy -- but he absorbs the wrong takeaway message.

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What's the story?

A giant squid realizes none of his kind has ever been president, so he aims to be the first. He boasts of his qualifications: He wears a tie, he has a big house, he's famous, he talks nonstop, and he's bossy. What more could anyone want? Unfortunately for him, the other sea creatures don't care. Squid isn't getting the respect he demands, so he questions a sardine caught in a clamshell. The sardine patiently explains the clam's indifference and why he can't obediently hail President Squid. The squid frees the grateful sardine, and a crowd of admirers gathers. But the squid decides being a president takes too much effort -- so he devises a new plan to get all the power with none of the work!

Is it any good?

Preschoolers might seem young for political satire, but they'll giggle knowingly at the prideful antics of this neon-pink squid who fancies himself a leader worthy of joining Mt. Rushmore. PRESIDENT SQUID is everything a good leader shouldn't be: a lazy, self-absorbed poor listener who wants lots of attention and is easy to laugh at. (Older readers will certainly be reminded of real-life politicians.)

Author Aaron Reynolds brings the same smart-alecky humor showcased in Carnivores. Illustrator Sara Varon manages to capture dismissive glances and eye rolls in a vibrant cartoon style. A hilarious book to read together -- bring your best funny read-aloud voice!

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what qualities make a good leader, including those needed by a good president. How are they similar to -- or different from -- the qualities that make a good friend?

  • How do you handle someone who's bossing you around?

  • Look at expressions on the animals around the squid. What do you imagine they're thinking?

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