cover image Otto Runs for President

Otto Runs for President

Rosemary Wells, . . Scholastic, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-545-03722-8

With a heavy-handed swat at big money, egocentric candidates and rumor-mongering, Wells's election-year tale features puppies running for Barkadelphia School president. Unfortunately, stereotyped characters and an unsurprising plot weaken the story considerably. The popular female poodles support cheerleader Tiffany, and the jocks rally around Charles, the bulldog football team captain, while gentle Otto, unlike the competition, actually listens to the desires of a variety of pint-size voters. Wells does portray several standard dirty tricks using devices children can understand. Charles's and Tiffany's rich parents try to buy the election with free burgers and pancakes, and when Tiffany puts post-its on lockers impugning Charles's integrity, he retaliates by accusing her of spending class dues on hairspray. Meanwhile, goody-four-paws Otto asks fellow students what would make their school better—“A homework help line is what I need,” says one. Wells's illustrations show occasional flashes of humor, but often the characters seem awkwardly or inconsistently drawn. It's no surprise when Otto wins the election and discovers it's harder than he thought to keep even simple campaign promises. Ages 4–8. (June)