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The Campaign by Leila Sales, illustrated by Kim Balacuit

Published by Harry N. Abrams

The Campaign: Sales, Leila, Balacuit, Kim: 9781419739743: Amazon.com: Books

Summary:  Maddie Polansky’s pretty sure seventh grade will suck, with art class offering the only bright spot on an otherwise dismal daily schedule.  So when she hears that unopposed mayoral candidate Lucinda Burghart is planning to cut the school’s arts funding, she feels desperate enough to try to do something about it.  After learning that the only qualification to run is to be a registered voter, she starts asking around.  To her surprise, Janet, her 23-year-old babysitter, agrees.  Janet is struggling to find work and figures she has nothing to lose.  There’s one obstacle after another, though, beginning with the required 350 signatures to get on the ballot. Although Maddie considers herself the most unpopular kid in the class, she realizes she needs allies and finds ways to convince other kids who are passionate about the arts to join Janet’s campaign.  They all have plenty to learn as they make their way through the fall, and, as we all know, there can be some interesting surprises on Election Day.  Includes a six-page author’s note with ideas and websites for getting involved in community activism and politics.  304 pages; grades 3-6.

Pros:  Woven into this fun, slightly snarky middle school tale is a wealth of information about civics and elections, and a pretty heartwarming message encouraging kids to become activists.  The illustrations on almost every page keep things moving along at a good clip, and it’s nice to see some of the stereotypical middle school mean girls turn into human beings as the story progresses.

Cons:  Maddie’s parents, clueless almost to the point of negligence, never move beyond ridiculous one-dimensional characters.

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