Bookworm: ‘Vote for ME!’ by Ben Clanton

"Vote for ME!" by Ben Clanton. $16.95, 40 pages
Lately, your parents have been grumbling at the TV a lot.

Your dad hits the “quiet” button on and off all night long. He might even throw things at the TV, or rip up some of his mail. Your mother shakes her head and avoids the telephone, and you think you know why: There’s an election going on this year, and grown-ups are fierce about who should win the contest.

It’s odd, isn’t it? And it might not make a whole lot of sense to you, but read the new book “Vote for ME!” by Ben Clanton, and you may understand a little bit better.

Elephant and Donkey were holding an election. Both of them wanted to win but, of course, only one or the other could.

Donkey said that people should vote for him because he was Number One. Elephant said Donkey was Number One Bighead.

Then Elephant said he was “super cute.” He thought everyone should vote for him because he was adorable. Donkey thought that was ridiculous.

Donkey offered to hand out candy if everyone voted for him. Elephant offered to hand out peanuts. Donkey said he was like family and you have to vote for family. Elephant thought that was ridiculous.

Donkey rolled out a long, long, lo-o-o-ng list of reasons why everyone should vote Donkey. One of the things was “Elephants Stink.”

Elephant didn’t like that much. He started to throw big gobs of mud at Donkey. They began calling one another names and the mud-slinging was everywhere. The names were loud and they were really mean. Things got nasty because Elephant and Donkey were angry at one another.

And when you’re very, very angry, it’s easy for someone to get their feelings hurt – which is exactly what happened. Donkey and Elephant were both sad for that. They apologized and decided that they could still be friends.

But friendship doesn’t settle the vote and somebody still needed to be chosen for First-Place. Who would you vote for? And who do you suppose was the all-time big vote-collecting winner?

You know that little kids have big ears, so there’s no doubt your child has been listening to what’s going on in the country. But does (s)he understand? Maybe not, so “Vote for ME!” is a book to find.

Using iconic symbols for the Republican and Democratic parties, as well as a story that perfectly illustrates the squabbling that happens, author Ben Clanton shows kids that all the yelling and literal (in this book) mud-slinging might be scary and mean but, in the end, we can all try to get along again.

Kids will appreciate that message because it makes this grown-up fight seem rather silly. Along those lines, I think this book will charm the socks off adults, too, whether they’re foam-at-the-mouth politicos or just tired of the whole darn thing.

If the election has been Topic One at your house, then take a second look at this book. For you and your child both, “Vote for ME!” should be a front-runner.

Terri Schlichenmeyer has been reading since she was 3 years old, and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.