Wells, R. (2008). Otto Runs for President. New York: Scholastic Press.
Oh Rosemary Wells, it feels like you have been writing forever. You and your anthropomorphized animals. I can't help but recall you have a particular fondness for bunnies.
This time around, Dogs and political campaigns are the focus of Otto Runs for President. The school is torn between voting for Tiffany, the prettiest poodle, and Charles, the sports team captain. What follows is a very gendered and stereotypical campaign process (What can I say, I like my female dogs to campaign for more than eyebrow pencils to be added to the pencil kits) that quickly turns nasty.
Otto, who is actually concerned with what his fellow students want, decides to run as well. Will Otto, who is not popular, be able to get his classmates votes running a clean and honest campaign?
The fact that there's a disclaimer stating that any resemblance to actual candidates is coincidental does amuse me. Despite this, this picturebook feels more like a critique of the American election process intended for actual politicians than a fun read intended for young readers.
If their are local elections or school elections for class representatives a teacher could share Otto Runs for President to help show the process and pressures as well as the role popularity and cliques can play.
A teacher can emphasize the idea of running a clean and honest campaign and that the point of serving in office is to represent all of the students and to consider their needs, not your own.
Quotes of Note:
"It was election time at Barkadelphia School.
"Whoever collects fifty paw prints can run for president of the school," announced Miss Kibbler."
"Tiffany will win!" shouted all the popular kids.
"Tiffany's the cutest and the smartest!"
"I don't know why they are so popular," said Melanie.
"They don't care about anybody but themselves!"
"Suddenly, Otto had an idea.
"I'm going to run for president," he said.
He began by asking his classmates what they really
wanted at Barkadelphia School."