President Squid

Aaron Reynolds, illus. by Sara Varon. Chronicle, $16.99 (44p) ISBN 978-1-4521-3647-9

Reynolds’s (Nerdy Birdy) antic extravaganza stars a power-hungry, bubblegum-pink squid that Varon (Odd Duck) gives peg teeth and an Uncle Sam hat: “I will be the greatest president who ever lived!” Some of the reasons he wants to run: presidents wear ties, do “all the talking,” and get to be the boss. “Hey, Shark!” he commands experimentally. “Brush your teeth! Hey, Jellyfish! Comb your tentacles! You look terrible!” But when he tries to ask a sardine for its vote, the sardine can’t respond; it’s stuck in a clam. The squid, sweating a bit, releases the sardine. “You did it, sir! You helped me!” the freed fish gushes. “Helping people... that’s very presidential!” There’s no redemption here: “Being president is exhausting,” the squid sputters. “I want to be... King Squid!” Varon’s drawings are under graceful control, their comic energy harnessed to keep the action clear. The undersea setting contributes laughs of its own—and savvy readers will not miss the startling similarity between the megalomaniacal squid and a certain presidential candidate. Ages 5–8. [em]Author’s agent: Paul Rodeen, Rodeen Literary Management. Illustrator’s agent: Tanya McKinnon, McKinnon McIntyre. (Mar.) [/em]