A Lesson in Presidential Politics

Children's book character campaigns to "make life fair."

ByABC News
October 15, 2008, 2:52 PM

Oct. 30, 2008 — -- Dozens of seated third-graders crowd the floor for story time, their faces tilted in earnest concentration.

But this isn't a typical children's book. It's a lesson in presidential politics.

Leading today's lesson is Kate Feiffer, author of several children's books and her latest: "President Pennybaker."

With she and the kids gathered at Politics and Prose, a bookstore in leafy Northwest Washington, D.C., Feiffer is yearning to get this crowd to read, have some fun and even learn a thing or two about the 2008 election.

"President Pennybaker" is the tale of Luke Pennybaker, a young boy who throws his hat in the ring, declaring he will run for president of the United States. His platform isn't "Change" or "Country First."

His simple platform is "to make life fair."

He's not a member of the Republican Party, but he's not a Democrat either. Pennybaker is a member of "the Birthday Party."

The story focuses on a boy who will do anything to get out of cleaning his room -- even run for president.

And with the historic 2008 presidential election just days away, the release of Feiffer's latest work provided the opportunity for the author to travel the country and campaign for the fictional Pennybaker and her nonfictional goal of getting kids engaged in politics.

This mother from Massachusetts says she likes to engage young readers in lively conversation, asking them questions like, "Why would someone run for president?"

The children's responses often belie their young age.

"They want to build more houses for people who have them!" one student said.

"To make our world a better place," said another.

"To help out people who are less fortunate."

Of course, ask how a candidate should declare he or she is running, and you'll also get some interesting answers.

"Skywriting," said one wide-eyed student.

"Shout really, really loud from a rooftop," said another.

And for Feiffer, there was no better way to end her visit with a group of children like the one in the bookstore, than to host a mock election. But there was one rule: You have to be younger than 18 to vote.