Those weary of hearing or reading about the same old 2004 presidential hopefuls can take heart. Soon to make headlines are two brand-new contenders who also aspire to reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. One is known to young adult readers as the pseudonymous hero in Janet Tashjian's TheGospel According to Larry (2001), who returns to run for office in Vote for Larry, due from Holt in May. Also throwing his hat into the ring is the web-footed protagonist of Caldecott Honor Book Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type (which sold more than 500,000 copies) and Giggle, Giggle, Quack, who hits the campaign trail in Duck for President. This latest collaboration by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin will be published by Simon & Schuster in March.

Running for office is hardly out of character for Larry, a politically aware teen who in Tashjian's earlier novel (reprinted by Dell/Laurel-Leaf in May) launched a Web site on which he espoused his anti-consumerism views and struck a resonant chord with his peers. In Vote for Larry, he takes his activism even further when he announces his candidacy for president. "Larry has no allusions about winning," explained Sharon Hancock, director of marketing for Henry Holt Books for Young Readers. "Basically his goal is to get the youth of America to become more politically aware—to register to vote and become involved in the electoral process. Interestingly, this is similar to what we saw happen with Howard Dean's campaign."

Holt's press release for the novel emphasizes its potential for encouraging young adults to become better attuned to and involved in the presidential election, citing the book as "the perfect complement in the upcoming election year to the get-out-the-young-voters efforts of MTV's 'Rock the Vote.' " Tashjian delivers her message with ample wit, Hancock added. "Instead of hosting fat-cat fundraising dinners for $20,000 a plate, he offers his supporters 'Beans with Larry' for $5."

Holt will launch the novel with a 35,000-copy first printing and promote it on various teen Web sites. "Vote for Larry" lanyards will be distributed at BEA, ALA and several regional conventions, which Tashjian will attend. The author, who lives outside Boston, will make publicity appearances in that area.

A Fowl Bid for the Presidency

Abundant humor also infuses Duck for President, as this ambitious quacker moves up the political ladder, first winning an election to oust the farmer ("VOTE DUCK! For a Kinder, Gentler Farm!" reads his campaign poster), then winning the gubernatorial election ("by a nose") and finally reaching the Oval Office (where, realizing that running a country is "no fun at all," he resorts to reading the want ads). With tongue firmly in cheek—or bill—Suzanne Murphy, v-p of marketing for S&S Children's Publishing, mused, "We all felt it was inevitable that Duck would seek higher office given his talent for deception and negotiation. We deliberated about the right time to

announce Duck's candidacy, but we're not sure about his party affiliation. We're not lumping him with the Democrats though we have done mailings to key states in the recent primary frenzy. We finally chose a laydown date of March 2nd—Super Tuesday. We know that at this point everyone is thinking Kerry, Kerry, Kerry, but we're excited to offer up an alternative candidate."

S&S is clearly positioning this feathered fellow as a strong contender, backing Duck for President with a 250,000-copy first printing and fueling Duck's political bid with a promotional campaign that entails posters, bumper stickers and buttons, plus a national tour for Cronin and Lewin.

Among their stumping stops is Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston, where owner Valerie Koehler is thrilled to be hosting an event on March 25. "One of our local schools will be sending its entire first grade, and the public is invited as well," said Koehler. "The teacher of these students is a huge fan of this author and illustrator and her students are very well versed with the collaborators' previous books. We will have a discussion about the actual candidates and will do some kind of balloting so that the kids get to vote."

Another bookseller who believes Duck is a candidate who fits the bill is Ann Teitel, children's book manager at the Dolphin Bookshop in Port Washington, N.Y. "Our rep showed me this book back in October and I immediately began preselling it," she recalled. "These collaborators' earlier books are well known and Click, Clack, Moo is still selling like hotcakes, which helps. This is a perfect book to teach children about how elections work, especially since it is so funny." Teitel, who will welcome Cronin and Lewin to her store on March 5, said that staffers are already sporting "Duck for President" buttons.

Whatever the outcome of the election, early polls indicate that Vote for Larry and Duck for President may both end up winners.