President Pennybaker


Kate Feiffer?s politically playful picture book is now available in paperback!

Even though Luke Pennybaker cleans his room, eats his lunch, brushes his teeth, and feeds the fish, he isn?t allowed to watch TV. Life just isn?t fair! Luke decides to do something about it?something big. He runs for President of the United States so he can make the rules.

Luke?s bid in the presidential race takes him and his dog (his running mate) across the country...

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Kate Feiffer’s politically playful picture book is now available in paperback!

Even though Luke Pennybaker cleans his room, eats his lunch, brushes his teeth, and feeds the fish, he isn’t allowed to watch TV. Life just isn’t fair! Luke decides to do something about it—something big. He runs for President of the United States so he can make the rules.

Luke’s bid in the presidential race takes him and his dog (his running mate) across the country as he gathers support for his platform issues: Homework will be optional, bedtimes are no more, dessert time is anytime, and there will be a pet for every child. With overwhelming popular support, Luke takes office. But being President is a lot of work. How will President Pennybaker find a way to still have fun?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Adding to the slate of presidential-election titles, Feiffer's (Henry the Dog with No Tail) spirited picture book introduces a fresh-faced candidate, plucky Luke Pennybaker. Fed up with the blatant unfairness at home (no TV time, even after he's done his chores), Luke and his running mate, Lily the dog, represent the Birthday Party, espousing a platform of messy rooms all around as well as cake, ice cream and pets for everyone. When their message ("Be fair!") catches on, Luke and Lily find themselves in the White House (painted orange at Luke's request)-which may not be ideal after all. Goode's (Baby Face) airy, pale-hued watercolors cleverly set the context. Seemingly realistic, the illustrations are blithely anachronistic, mixing black-and-white TVs, sputtering jalopies, a 1940s police uniform and knee-length boys' trousers-a faux-historical setting just right for a tale framed as "the story of how Luke Pennybaker became the youngest boy ever to run for president." The line between fantasy and real-world politics stays clear, leaving readers free to enjoy the fun. Ages 4-8. (Aug.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Heather Christensen
When his father issues an especially undeserved edict, Luke Pennybaker exclaims the universal cry of children everywhere: "It's not fair!" Not satisfied with just complaining, Pennybaker decides to do something about it. So, he runs for President of the United States on a platform that promises pets for all children, dessert any time of day, optional homework, and most importantly, to make life fair. With his dog Lily as a running mate, Luke heads out on the campaign trail, and the promises continue to grow. The retro style of clothes, cars, and telephones in Goode's illustrations give the story an old-time feel. Her whimsical watercolors energize this timely tale of a grassroots movement and the democratic process. Children will laugh at the idea of an orange White House, as well as the other ridiculous promises made by Pennybaker, but teachers can use the silly story as a springboard for more serious discussion about the election process. Pair this with Cronin's Duck for President for a fun November story time. Reviewer: Heather Christensen
School Library Journal

K-Gr 3

Young Luke Pennybaker realizes that life is unfair after receiving one too many "no's" from his dad. In response, he decides to run for president. With his dog as running mate and campaign promises that address homework, sleeping late, and the right to a messy room, his candidacy quickly takes off. The "Birthday Party" candidate beats his Democratic and Republican rivals in a landslide. When he moves into the White House, which has been painted orange in response to Luke's persuasiveness, President Pennybaker soon learns that even free ice cream and presents won't please every one of his constituents. He promptly resigns, leaving the leadership of the nation to his dog. Deadpan narration allows the absurdity of the premise to carry the day, with plenty of help from the illustrations. Goode's breezy watercolors set just the right tone. Luke looks amusingly earnest and always very much a regular kid. Other characters are equally expressive, without being too exaggerated. Old-fashioned phones, televisions, and other implements set the action in an earlier era, neatly adjusted to include rich ethnic diversity and a female presidential candidate. The humor is deftly understated, both visually and verbally, making this an amusing and appealing send-up of politics and children's chores.-Steven Engelfried, Multnomah County Library, OR

Kirkus Reviews
"And why not?" readers will ask of young Luke Pennybaker's run for president on a platform of time-honored plaints: no to homework, no to bedtime, no to everything but dessert, gifts and messy rooms. Luke's a card-carrying member of the Birthday Party, his eye skinned for unfairness-for kids, admittedly, but by implication (nicely understated by Feiffer and underscored by Goode's artfully composed, old-timey illustrations) throwing a protective covering over all the people. Not to forget dogs, as his running mate is Lily, his pooch. Ushered into the White House (now the Orange House) upon his landslide victory, Luke soon learns of the endless, pick-nose demands of office. He's outta there, but not to worry, for Lily is happy to take her bowl into the Oval Office. Breezy and charming and pleasingly subversive, the book burrows right into the heart of the Declaration. This little Jeffersonian is exercising his right to the pursuit of happiness, the noble, embracing aspiration that-unvoiced here, but looming-could well be lost upon over-35-year-olds. (Picture book. 4-8)
From the Publisher
"Breezy and charming and pleasingly subversive, the book burrows right into the heart of the Declaration. This little Jeffersonian is exercising his right to the pursuit of happiness…"- Kirkus Reviews
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416913559
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
  • Publication date: 1/3/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 10.80 (h) x 0.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Kate Feiffer is a writer, a filmmaker, and a mother. She is the author of the picture books But I Wanted a Baby Brother!; The Wild, Wild Inside; Which Puppy?; and My Mom Is Trying to Ruin my Life; and of the middle-grade novels Signed by Zelda and The Problem with the Puddles. She lives with her family on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Visit her at

Diane Goode is the illustrator of dozens of beloved and critically acclaimed picture books. Winner of the Caldecott Honor for Cynthia Rylant’s When I Was Young In The Mountains, Diane has also written and illustrated Where’s Our Mama?, Mama’s Perfect Present, Tiger Trouble, and Monkey Mo Goes To Sea. She lives and works in Watchung, New Jersey with her husband, David, and their two dogs, Jack and Daisy.

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