As If Being 12 3/4 Isn't Bad Enough, My Mother Is Running for President!

As If Being 12 3/4 Isn't Bad Enough, My Mother Is Running for President!

4.0 19
by Donna Gephart, J. C. Kocsis

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Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Abraham Lincoln . . . at one point, they all ran for president. And so is Vanessa Rothrock’s mother!
As if being 12 3/4 isn’t bad enough, Vanessa Rothrock’s mother is running for president and it’s ruining her life. Isn’t it enough that her enormous feet trip her up all the time,

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Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Abraham Lincoln . . . at one point, they all ran for president. And so is Vanessa Rothrock’s mother!
As if being 12 3/4 isn’t bad enough, Vanessa Rothrock’s mother is running for president and it’s ruining her life. Isn’t it enough that her enormous feet trip her up all the time, even on stage during the school spelling bee? Isn’t it enough that Reginald Trumball, love of Vanessa’s pathetic life, read her personal and private list of deficiencies to some boy she doesn’t even know? And that the Boob Fairy hasn’t visited her even once?! Doesn’t Mom realize that Vanessa needs her more than the rest of the country? More importantly, doesn’t she realize that she may be in grave danger? Vanessa's receiving threatening notes at school–notes that imply some psycho has it out for her mother at the Democratic National Convention. Vanessa might be the only person who can save her. But does she have the courage to do what that requires?
This hilarious debut novel about a girl who gets thrust into the campaign trail will have you laughing out loud and thanking your lucky stars that your mom never decided to enter a national election.

“Gephart maintains the humor even as the stakes rise. . . . An intelligent look at primaries, caucuses and nominating conventions.” –Publishers Weekly
“Readers learn about the political process and motivations of people who work in this milieu.” –SLJ

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Even though her breasts are "the size of cherry pits" and her widowed mother-the governor of Florida and a frontrunner in the Democratic presidential primaries-is rarely around, wonderful things are happening for seventh-grader Vanessa Rothrock. She wins the school spelling bee, and love notes from a secret admirer appear in her locker. Vanessa is proud of her mother's political success, but she grows weary of receiving motherly advice via telephone, e-mail and hastily scribbled notes. First-novelist Gephart adds a good degree of tension as Vanessa accidentally finds hate mail addressed to her mother; Vanessa is sure her mother is in imminent danger, but her mother-who happens to be meeting with Governor Schwarzenegger-explains that she receives dozens a day ("You should have seen the ones I got during the budget crunch," says Gephart's Schwarzenegger. "Half the state wanted to pummel me to death with oranges"). Soon afterward, Vanessa begins receiving threatening letters at school from someone who wants her to pressure her mother into dropping out of the race. Gephart maintains the humor even as the stakes rise; she also successfully captures life in the public eye. She delivers a diverting story that also gives readers an intelligent look at primaries, caucuses and nominating conventions. Ages 8-12. (Feb.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Claudia Mills
Gephart's debut novel is narrated in a sparkly, funny tween voice by Vanessa Rothrock, whose mother is not only the governor of Florida, but the leading contender for the Democratic nomination for president. With believable adolescent narcissism, Vanessa is not watching the returns from the New Hampshire primary; instead, she is studying for the county spelling bee (and Mom had better be there to cheer her on, or "File that under child abuse!"), obsessing about her oversized feet and undersized boobs, and talking on the phone with her current crush, handsome but obnoxious Reginald Trumbull (who may or may not be the secret admirer leaving love notes in her locker). But as the election progresses, someone else starts leaving notes in Vanessa's locker, as well—notes containing death threats against Vanessa and her mother, to be carried out unless Vanessa convinces her mother to abandon her quest for the presidency. One part breezy teen monologue, one part page-turning thriller, Gephart's novel is not entirely convincing as the portrait of an experienced politician's only child (would Vanessa really be surprised to find that she is expected to stand smiling next to her mom at the Democratic National Convention?), but it succeeds completely as a fast-paced, funny, absorbing read. Reviewer: Claudia Mills, Ph.D.
School Library Journal

Gr 5-7- Vanessa Rothrock is much like any girl her age. She studies hard for spelling bees, loves her best friend, hates P.E., frets about her flat chest, and has a crush on the most popular boy in school. In other ways, she is very unusual. Vanessa has a bodyguard and fan mail. And her mom has little time for her because she is the governor of Florida, running for president. Likewise, this book is much like others for this audience. It is written in friendly first person and teaches nice lessons about growing up. When Vanessa and the candidate receive death threats, the girl's concern for her mother's safety is tender and adds an exciting mystery and climax to an already compelling story. Readers learn about the political process and motivations of people who work in this milieu despite the considerable risks and sacrifices. Information is woven seamlessly into the narrative. Vanessa's mother runs on a Democratic ticket, and the book is clear about the issues that motivate her, particularly gun control. Issues and relationships are somewhat simplified, but appropriately so.-Amelia Jenkins, Juneau Public Library, AK

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Gephart writes humorously about a preteen's concerns regarding her mom, governor of Florida. Vanessa Rothrock is always tripping, getting tongue-tied and generally being a regular preteen. She suffers many realistic humiliations around her crush while all but ignoring classmate Reginald, with whom she has lots in common. Underpinning her humor is sadness that she is too often relegated to the backburner by her mother's many responsibilities. When Mom announces her run for the presidency, Vanessa knows things will only get worse. Her mother is not really neglectful and they discuss their feelings, but Vanessa's fear that something bad will happen to her mom (as it did to her late dad) overwhelms her. While her mother's handlers take somewhat seriously the increasingly threatening notes Vanessa gets at school from an unknown source, Vanessa has other worries-like why hasn't the Boob Fairy made an appearance at her house already? Eventually, a bad guy does emerge and it's up to Vanessa to rescue her mom. Had the author left out the mystery element, she would have had a satisfyingly funny story of teen/parental communication and the self-consciousness felt by so many preteens. (Fiction. 8-12)

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
7.68(w) x 5.28(h) x 0.65(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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As If Being 12 3/4 Isn't Bad Enough (My Mother Is Running for President)

By Donna Gephart


Copyright © 2010 Donna Gephart
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780440422112

I'm sitting on a wooden folding chair, hoping I don't get a splinter in my derriere, as Chester Fields tries to spell "thoroughly." Chester Fields is an idiot. "Thoroughly" is an easy word. But somehow he manages to muck it up, spelling, "T-h-u-r-u-h, I don't know, w-l-y." Cowbell for that boy! How did he even get to the schoolwide bee? I'll bet his teacher felt sorry for him. Or maybe it's because his mother is on the board of directors at Lawndale Academy.

I, Vanessa Rothrock, am sweating like a pig--do pigs sweat?--and wishing I could smell my pits, but the whole audience is looking at me. I pump my left leg up and down like crazy and hear Mom's voice in my head: Don't fidget, Vanessa; it's unbecoming. Still yourself. Still yourself? Easy for her to say. She's all poise and grace, forever saying and doing the perfect thing. Maybe I'm not really Mom's daughter. Maybe I was adopted, or switched at birth. But when I think of Mom's enormous feet, I know I'm all hers. I rest my hand on my leg to stop fidgeting and crane my neck. Is Mom even--?
"Vanessa Rothrock, please come up."

I gasp and choke on my own saliva. Then I stand and grab the back of my chair. Unfortunately, I do not die of asphyxiation (Asphyxiation. A-S-P-H-Y-X-I-A-T-I-O-N. Asphyxiation.) and I maneuver around students' feet and chair legs. The microphone is in sight. I'm sighing with relief at having passed through the minefield of legs without tripping when my gigantic feet tangle in the principal's microphone cord.

I lurch forward, grab for the podium, and end up with a handful of papers before crashing to the stage. I say something charming, like "Ooomph!" The audience lets out a collective gasp.

Unfortunately, I do not crack my head and die instantly. Why am I such a klutz?

As I lift my cheek from the dusty floor, I see camera lights flash like lightning. I put my head down and imagine tomorrow's headline: governor's daughter takes spill during school spelling bee. entire state of florida humiliated.

"No photographs, please," Mrs. Foster begs. "You were informed."

I look up again and see Mr. Martinez marching toward me from backstage. That's all I need to complete the humiliation package--my six-foot-tall security guard scooping me up from the stage and brushing me off.

I hold up a few fingers and he stops. I mouth the words "I'm okay." Mr. Martinez backs up so that he's offstage again. And against my better judgment, I stand and face the audience, who, by the way, have their mouths hanging open. My cheeks grow so hot I'm sure my head will spontaneously (Spontaneously. S-P-O-N-T-A-N-E-O-U-S-L-Y. Spontaneously.) combust. I look at Mrs. Foster and silently plead: Give me a word already and put me out of my misery.

Mrs. Foster clears her throat and motions toward my feet. I realize that her papers are scattered there. I gather them up and give them to her with trembling hands. I hear Mom's words again: Still yourself, Vanessa. Still yourself!

After adjusting her glasses and clearing her throat, Mrs. Foster says, "Your word is 'resuscitate.' "
I snort. I can't help it. I imagine a cute emergency tech resuscitating me on the floor of the stage. Unfortunately, when I snort, it makes a screeching noise in the microphone, and the people in the audience (even Mrs. Foster) cover their ears as though a supersonic jet has flown overhead. I see Mr. Martinez wince.

Why, I wonder, do I suffer such humiliation? What was God thinking when She made me?

Someone clears her throat. For a moment I think it's God, but then I look over and see Mrs. Foster tapping her watch.

My nostrils flare in a less-than-flattering way. I hate when someone taps a watch. I shake my head. What is my word again? OHMYGOD! I've completely forgotten. Sweat begins to pool under my arms. Did I remember to apply deodorant this morning or did I just spray perfume and hope for the best? "Could I have the origin of the word, please?"

"Resuscitate," Mrs. Foster snaps. "It comes from--"

"Resuscitate." I cut the principal off midsentence. "R-e-s-u-s-c-i-t-a-t-e. Resuscitate."

"That is correct." I imagine the "thank goodness and sit down" she doesn't say.

I curtsy--CURTSY? what am I, five years old?--then scamper back to polite applause. It's obvious I impress the audience by making it to my seat without tripping.

"Reginald Trumball, please come up."

Reginald turns and winks at me. At least I think it's at me. My heart goes into overdrive, and fingers of heat creep up my neck.

I notice my best friend, Emma Smith, staring at Reginald as he gets out of his seat. I wonder for a moment if she's even more in love with Reginald than I am. Not possible.

I watch Reginald jog to the microphone. He doesn't even stumble. That boy is all grace and good looks. If I'm lucky enough to have children with Reginald Trumball someday, I hope they inherit his good looks and quirky charm . . . and my ability to spell obscure (Obscure. O-B-S-C-U-R-E. Obscure.) words.

Mrs. Foster smiles and nods at Reginald. "Your word is 'categorize.' "

I close my eyes, squeeze my fingers into fists, and will the correct spelling into Reginald's gorgeous head. But something must be blocking my brain waves, because Reginald says: "C-a-t-i-g-o-r-i-z-e."
When the cowbell signals his defeat, Reginald's mother has her arm around his shoulders before he's even completely off the stage. Reginald puts his arm around his mother's shoulder and leans his head close to hers. She whispers something into his ear, probably about how he'll never need to spell that word again and how she'll take him out for ice cream later. I want that mother.

From the Hardcover edition.


Excerpted from As If Being 12 3/4 Isn't Bad Enough (My Mother Is Running for President) by Donna Gephart Copyright © 2010 by Donna Gephart. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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