Books to inspire and inform young people about President-elect Barack Obama and his historic inauguration include an artist's celebration of the American spirit, the life of the first lady to be and a look at our 44th commander in chief for preschoolers.
Obama-mania has generated junior biographies and fresh presidential encyclopedias by the armload in time for the big swearing-in Tuesday, but parents beware: Splashy Obama covers or promised post-election updates may not pay off, so check inside.
In addition to the pre-inaugural fare, look for a comic book biography of Michelle Obama in April from Bluewater Productions. She's the latest to join the company's "Female Force" series with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Bluewater, based in Bellingham, Wash., plans to add Caroline Kennedy in June.
With a little help from a grown-up, there's "my first presidential board book" from Michaelson Entertainment in Santa Monica, Calif. — "Barack Obama 101" by Brad M. Epstein ($10.95). It includes full-color photos of the smiling first family, Obama grinning at the wheel of a bumper car with daughter Sasha and Obama the boy, college guy and community organizer.
There's even a photo spread on the presidential wheels — Air Force One, the helicopter Marine One and the sleek black limos of many a motorcade to come. Little Obama watchers can trace where he's lived on a world map, slip their own photos into a frame as possible presidential contenders of the future and make a list of their heroes.
"Yes We Can!" (Scholastic, $4.99, ages 4-8) with numerous photo credits.
This quick and simple picture book companion to the biography of the same name pairs colorful news photos of Obama, his family and young supporters with text from his victory speech. The borderless images and his plea for help are a powerful match for kids.
"Don't Know Much About the Presidents" (HarperCollins, $6.99, ages 6-9) by Kenneth C. Davis.
In Q-and-A format, this update appeals with kid-friendly facts: While Obama is about 6-feet-3, another famous lanky lawyer from Illinois (Abraham Lincoln) remains the tallest president at 6-4. Is Obama the youngest president at 47? Nope. Theodore Roosevelt was 42 when he took over after McKinley's assassination and Presidents Ulysses S. Grant, John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton were all younger than Obama when elected.
"Change Has Come" (Simon & Schuster, $12.99, 9-12) illustrated by Kadir Nelson with the words of Obama.
Kadir captures Obama's messages of community, hope and change in black-and-white drawings in this small celebration of the American spirit for young people. Spontaneously drawn portraits of the president, everyday voters and Martin Luther King Jr. on the march reinforce Obama's message: "What began as a whisper has now swelled to a chorus that cannot be ignored."
"Barack Obama, People We Should Know" (Gareth Stevens Publishing, ages 9-12) by Geoffrey M. Horn.
Out in paperback this month, this slim volume from Weekly Reader offers the victorious highs but also details the tough stuff from Obama's childhood and young adult years: his mother's marital and financial struggles, his early election defeats and the bad impression he left on Michelle Obama when he was late for their first date. Latest in the "People We Should Know" series.
"Barack Obama, Our 44th President" (Simon & Schuster, $5.99, ages 9-12) By Beatrice Gormley.
Among the better biographies for young people recently updated with Obama's victory. Gormley describes the "Guess Who Coming to Dinner" moment when Barack's white American mother brought home is black Kenyan father to meet her parents for the first time. At Occidental College in well-to-do suburban Los Angeles, Obama transforms from Barry to Barack and his interest in politics surfaces out of the anti-apartheid movement on campus.
"Michelle Obama, Meet the First Lady" (HarperCollins, $16.99, ages 8-12) by David Bergen Brophy.
Drawing strength from the struggles of her disabled father and hard-working mother on Chicago's South Side, Michelle Obama's life away from home as a student at predominantly white Princeton is described with a steady hand, as is her first look at her husband-to-be in "bad sport jacket and a cigarette dangling from his mouth." Brophy relies nicely on the soon-to-be first lady's own words.
"Michelle Obama, An American Story" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $6.99, ages 8-12) by David Colbert.
Feels a bit like an instant but includes 16 pages of color photos and fun facts for kids: She was the first lawyer to Barney the dinosaur. When she first met Obama, she tried to set him up on dates with her friends. One of her favorite toys as a girl was her Easy-Bake oven. She was athletic growing up but shied away from sports so as not to compete with her star athlete of a big brother.