I first heard part of this book read aloud at the SCBWI LA Conference in August. Editor Melissa Manlove read it with gusto during a panel and she had the audience of 1,000+ people cracking up. So when she abruptly closed the book halfway through, you bet your bottom I had to finish it. President Squid by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Sara Varon is a fun and LOL-worthy PB with one ridiculous protagonist. This (very current and relevant) political satire will get the whole room rolling.
Synopsis: Power-hungry Giant Squid has something VERY IMPORTANT to say. He knows he’ll be the best first-ever giant squid president, and he’s prepared to tell you why he’s the best for the job (whether you like it or not). He wears a bowtie and has a big house, among other very important things. Presidential, right? But when he finds out how tough the job really is, he may just decide he’s better suited for a more *ahem* noble title.
What I love most about this PB is the voice. It is so strong, so obnoxious, so FUN to read aloud. I mean, look at the cover. Can you not already hear what Giant Squid might say? Almost the entire PB is written as Giant Squid talking at the reader, which makes this feel like one crazy, rambling campaign speech.
Though his reasons for being president are silly, he thinks they’re anything but. He calls on fish to prove his points in the most ridiculous ways. One of my favorite lines occurs on the spread where Giant Squid brags about being the big boss. He says, “And there’s nobody bossier than me! Hey, Shark! Brush your teeth! Hey, Jellyfish! Comb your tentacles! You look terrible! See? Very bossy.”
The illustrations are vibrant and wonderful. I especially love how Varon decided to make Giant Squid hot pink—it’s loud and adds to his hilarity and absurdity. And of course, you can’t help but love the reactions of all the other fish as Giant Squid shouts, many of them swimming away with big, expressive eyes. Same, fish. Same.
Above all, this is a fun read with an important message: being president is one tough job that requires more than being famous, rich, and bossy. Purposefully poking fun at a certain presidential candidate? I can’t confirm this, but I dig it, especially during one crazy important election season.
Kids will love the voice and I think you will get a kick out of the humor. Read it, it’s VERY IMPORTANT!