Review Blog

Oct 22 2009

Barack Obama: The making of a president by Dawne Allette

cover image

Tamarind 2009.
(Ages 9 +) Highly Recommended. This is a gem of a book which tells the fascinating, thought-provoking story of Barack Obama from his early childhood to his first hundred days in office. Barack's African routes and Indonesian childhood are covered in detail along with his complex family and his political ambitions. Reading about his upbringing, his nickname of Curly Eyelashes and his beloved basketball, young readers will identify with this very ordinary boy.
I found this a hugely uplifting and informative read. Allette writes powerfully, describing Barack's upbringing, his ambition and how hard he worked to fulfil it. Today when many children are obsessed with celebrity and claim the rather empty ambition of 'wanting to be famous' it is heartening to read the story of an ordinary boy who set out to make a difference in his community before realising that to really succeed he would need to change laws - and to do that only the top job would suffice. This is a story of real ambition, of hard work, of love and support. However, it is no fairy tale and Allette covers the challenges and problems that faced Obama as well as his achievements.
Fact boxes offer helpful background information and set Obama's story in the context of its time. Unsurprisingly prejudice is a recurring theme, from the era of slavery, right up to the modern day. During a visit to America in the 1960s, my sister remembers only too well the signs on cafe windows that read 'No Blacks'. Forty years on a black man occupies the most powerful position on earth. That is something worth celebrating and Allette does this in a hugely readable, dynamic and fascinating way. Buy it for your library, read it to your class, talk about it and use it to reinforce the message that Barack himself wants to convey: 'No dream is beyond our grasp if we reach for it, and fight for it and work for it'.
Claire Larson

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