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

Chronicle. Mar. 2020. 48p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781452174884.
Gr 2-5–Messner leads a delightful march through our nation’s presidents, focusing on where they were and what they were doing at various points in history. She emphasizes that there are “presidents of tomorrow” already living among us today. The time line begins with George Washington and describes what the nine presidents who were alive during his tenure were doing. The text discusses the list of leaders and their early lives through the presidency of John F. Kennedy, including the information that presidents 42–45 were still children. The book ends with a call to future generations. Messner’s writing maintains a buoyant tone throughout the narrative. Most of her factoids are interesting, though they become dry by the time readers get to later presidents. Messner seems to show a bit of bias in her inclusion of a negatively toned fact about Donald Trump, combined with prominent inclusions of Hillary Clinton. Most other facts are lighthearted. With the exception of Clinton, the book does not feature any other presidential nominee who lost. However, this does not detract from the overall quality of the text or Rex’s beautiful illustrations.
VERDICT A vivacious exploration of the early lives of the leaders of the free world; an excellent nonfiction addition that will engage young history buffs.

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