The Next President by Kate Messner

The Next President: The Unexpected Beginnings and Unwritten Future of America’s Presidents

Kate Messner, Author

Adam Rex, Illustrator

Chronicle Books, Nonfiction, Mar. 24, 2020

Pages: 48

Suitable for ages: 8-12

Themes: Past Presidents, Future Presidents,  Childhoods facts, United States

Opening: “Quick: Name the President of the United States.”

Book Jacket Synopsis:

When George Washington became the first president of the United States, there were nine future presidents already alive in America, doing things like practicing law or studying medicine.

When JFK became the thirty-fifth president, there were 10 future presidents already alive in America, doing things like hosting TV shows and learning the saxophone. One president was born in 1961.

And right now—today!—there are at least 10 future presidents alive in America. They could be playing basketball, like Barack Obama, or helping in the garden, like Dwight D. Eisenhower. They could be solving math problems or reading books. They could be making art—or already making change.

Why I like this book:

Kate Messner’s nonfiction book for middle graders, is a timely and fascinating compilation of facts about the U.S. presidents when they were ordinary kids, before they became leaders of the free world. Her creative presentation is unique. Even though there may be one president leading the country, the future leaders of tomorrow are always out there, whether they are infants, students in school, lawyers, teachers, or running a farm and business.

The book wraps up with the most important question of all for young people: “So where is the next president?” At least three future presidents are children right now. It invites readers to think BIG and realize that anything is possible. In fact, they may be reading this book right now. Could it be you?   

Her  beautifully designed book will resonate with children. And make sure you peek under the book jacket cover. Adam Rex’s large pastel illustrations feature unusual and interesting stand-out moments for many of the presidents making them appear very ordinary. The text about each president appears in bubbles.  There is a special double-spread –“Snapshot” page — in the center of the book about presidential pets.

This is an excellent classroom discussion book, especially with a presidental election in November.

Resources: The backmatter in the book includes a map of the Presidential Birthplaces. There is information about Presidential Requirements and The Changing Face of America’s Presidency. There are also suggestions for further reading. This is a valuable and creative resource for students and teachers. It is a fun way to get involved in the process.  Afterall, there are three future presidents in school right now.

Kate Messner is passionately curious and writes books for kids who wonder, too. A former teacher, she has written more than thirty picture books, chapter books, and novels for young readers. She is an award-winning author whose many books for kids have been selected as Best Books by the New York Times, Junior Library Guild, IndieBound, and Bank Street College of Education. She lives on Lake Champlain with her family. Visit Messner at her website.

*Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the MMGM link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Reviewed from a library copy.