A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Historical facts and information about the White House (architecture, residence, public areas, events, etc.) and its occupants (in particular on previous children of presidents).
It's better to have friends (and be a good friend) than to be right. If someone's feelings are hurt, it wasn't a good joke. People shouldn't be defined forever by a few bad choices. Listen to your gut; if it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't.
Positive Role Models
The outgoing and incoming first daughters are friends from the campaign trail, but a prank the current White House daughters play on the soon-to-be first kids fuels hurt feelings, anger, and revenge. An escalating prank war threatens their friendships, as well as burdens White House staff. There are sweet sisterly moments of loyalty and support. Winnie and Ingrid are Latinx, and Zora and Skylar are Black. Winnie and Ingrid's dad is the first Latinx president and Zora and Skylar's mom is the first Black woman president-elect. Background characters are also racially diverse.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Yamile Saied Méndez's Shaking Up the House tells the story of an epic prank war between four preteen friends, siblings Winnie and Ingrid and twins Zora and Skylar. The girls must present a friendly, united front -- Winnie and Ingrid's dad is the outgoing president, America's first Latino president, while Zora and Skylar's mom is the president-elect, the first Black woman to ever be elected president. The girl express their fear if the media got wind of the hurt feelings, anger, and the girl's escalating prank war, the commentary could end up more racist than simply gossipy. Some of the pranks are quite mean and impact White House staff members just trying to do their jobs, but there's no violence or concerning language. There are plenty of interesting facts and historical tidbits about the White House for budding U.S. history buffs. A fun read in presidential election years, but also for kids curious about the inner workings of the White House.
Is It Any Good?
This silly, irreverent story will likely delight young readers. Shaking Up the House gives readers a peek at the goings-on in the private residence of the White House. Chapters alternate between the four girls' perspectives, so we get to see how each girl experiences life surrounded by history, staff, and secret service. Part of the fun of this book is seeing the girls fight for mischief and normalcy in a very unique setting. Authentic cultural details about the two presidential families and the realities of racism are woven in artfully by the author, without defining the individual personalities of the characters.
The implausibility of the president and the president-elect's families overlapping their stay in the White House, and the lack of explanation for this decision may bother observant readers. It's also not clear why the girls keep the prank war going, even when weighed down by guilt and a desire to not ruin friendships. The story would have benefitted form more scenes of conflict-free girl friendships. But these issues aren't likely to register for most younger readers, so this is a good choice for kids in search of an interesting, feel-good, fast-moving story to read.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.