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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Politics and Mainstream Children’s Literature in 2016

You may have seen the Guardian article the other day ‘Oh, what a big gun you have’: NRA rewrites fairytales to include firearms.  The title pretty much is the whole story, except that these are tales posted on the NRA’s website and not (at this time) actual published books.  I was looking at the post and the books themselves and for whatever reason it made me think about the current crop of picture books for kids today about the candidate for president.  Candidate singular, you see, because of the people running, only one has several picture book biographies to her name.

Flashback: The year is 2008 and I’m attending a Simon & Schuster publisher preview.  Here is my write-up from the time.  What you will not find in the write-up was what happened when the John McCain picture book biography was shown to the librarians in attendance.  They were . . . let us say less than pleased as a whole, though obviously I cannot speak for everyone.  The editor, incensed, stood and suddenly made a passionate speech about having to show both sides of every story.  That we owe it to our young readers to have picture book biographies of the candidates of both parties.

Fast Forward to 2016: Now I cannot say what the future holds in political publishing.  All I can say is that at this moment in time, there are at least three picture book biographies out about Hillary Clinton and only Hillary Clinton.  They are:



I confess that it was a co-worker who pointed out to me the red, white, and blue streaks in her hair. Totally missed that on a first read.

Hillary hc c

I’ll not comment on these individually (though I do a fantastic one-woman show reenacting the opening of one of these three books – see if you can guess which one).  What I will say is that in the children’s book publishing industry few find themselves surprised when only one candidate gets a book.  I’m no psychic, but I think it’s safe to say that we probably won’t be seeing a Trump or Cruz picture book bio from a mainstream publisher in the next year.  Now I could be wrong, but the difference between McCain and these two potential candidates is immense.  Quite frankly, McCain was better suited to the format.

So what does this say about the publishing industry of 2016 and is it the same or different from 2008?  No idea.  One thing is certain, though.  No matter who secures the Republican nomination, picture book bios of that person will appear.  They’ll just be coming from smaller, conservative presses.


Looks like I was a day early with this post.  This just in:





New York, NY, March 29—Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers announced today that it will publish A Child’s First Book of Trump by Michael Ian Black and illustrated by Marc Rosenthal, a picture book parody of the election season intended for adults. It will be published on July 12, 2016, just in time for the Republican National Convention.


So what should you do with a Trump running wild?

The answer is all up to you, my dear child.

Run away screaming? Or maybe you fight it?

Reason and logic will only incite it.


In A Child’s First Book of Trump, comedian, actor, and writer Michael Ian Black explains in spirited rhyme how to identify this confounding orange creature known as an American Trump, seen running wild this election season. Boisterous, confusing, overly–talkative—the Americus Trumpus is apparently here to stay, but thanks to this primer you will know just what to do if you confront one.


“This new book will help children of all ages learn to identify a Trump and what to do if they should ever come across one in the wild,” Black said. “Yes, Trumps are wild and unpredictable creatures, but with a little knowledge, I hope everybody can learn to appreciate the Trump for the misunderstood, absurd creature it is.”


“Who else but Michael Ian Black is better to tackle this important topic?” said Justin Chanda Vice President and Publisher of Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers.


Chanda, who will edit, negotiated the deal for world rights with Barry Goldblatt, who represents Black, and Holly McGhee, who represents Rosenthal.


Michael Ian Black is a writer, comedian, and actor who currently appears on Another Period, The Jim Gaffigan Show, and Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp. He created and starred in many television series, including Michael and Michael Have Issues, Stella, and The State. He wrote the screenplay for the film Run, Fatboy, Run and wrote and directed the film Wedding Daze. Michael regularly tours the country as a stand-up comedian and is the bestselling author of the book My Custom Van (and 50 Other Mind-Blowing Essays That Will Blow Your Mind All Over Your Face), the memoirs You’re Not Doing It Right and Navel Gazing, and the children’s books Chicken Cheeks, The Purple Kangaroo, A Pig Parade Is a Terrible Idea, , Naked!, Cock-a-Doodle-Doo-Bop!, and I’m Bored. Michael lives in Connecticut with his wife and two children.


Marc Rosenthal is the illustrator of many books for children, including I Must Have Bobo!, I’ll Save You Bobo!, and Bobo the Sailor Man!, all by Eileen Rosenthal; The Straight Line Wonder by Mem Fox; and Phooey, which he wrote. Marc’s illustrations can be seen regularly in The New Yorker, Time, Forbes, Fortune, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, and others. Visit him online at



Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, one of the leading children’s book publishers in the world, is comprised of the following imprints: Aladdin, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Beach Lane Books, Libros para niños, Little Simon®, Margaret K. McElderry Books, Paula Wiseman Books, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Simon Pulse, and Simon Spotlight®. While maintaining an extensive award-winning backlist, the division continues to publish acclaimed and bestselling books for children of all ages. In addition to numerous Caldecott, Newbery, and National Book Award winners, Simon & Schuster publishes such high-profile properties and series as Eloise, Olivia, Raggedy Ann & Andy™, Henry & Mudge®, The Hardy Boys®, Nancy Drew®, the Dork Diaries series, the Mortal Instruments series, Mike the Knight, and the original Cupcake Diaries and Creepover series. For more information about Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, visit our website at


Simon & Schuster, a part of CBS Corporation, is a global leader in the field of general interest publishing, dedicated to providing the best in fiction and nonfiction for consumers of all ages, across all printed, electronic, and audio formats. Its divisions include Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing, Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, Simon & Schuster Audio, Simon & Schuster Digital, and international companies in Australia, Canada, India, and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit our website at



By Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Marc Rosenthal

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: 7/12/16

ISBN: 9781481488006



Katy Hershberger, Associate Director of Publicity


About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Eric Carpenter says:

    Don’t forget about President Squid!

  2. Excellent point, good citizen.

  3. I haven’t read the first two yet but the one by Markel was hilarious! I want that same team to do books for all the candidates!

  4. Jennifer Schultz says:

    “I’m no psychic, but I think it’s safe to say that we probably won’t be seeing a Trump or Cruz picture book bio from a mainstream publisher in the next year.”

    You won’t see a Bernie Sanders picture book, either (I just did a search), along with none for any other candidate. There’s also a Who Is Hillary Clinton? coming out later this year (part of the Who Was/Who Is? series)

  5. I was already sent a copy of the Markel one to review. And put it right into the prize box for summer reading. We’ll see if there are any takers.

  6. You know, if she wins, HIllary Clinton would be the first woman President, and that might just represent a meaningful achievement to a generation of girls….

    (I’m waiting until after the election before making purchasing any of these books, anyway. We already have two children’s/teen bios of Clinton.)

    • Jennifer Schultz says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one holding off; I know several of these titles have received starred reviews, which is fantastic, but frankly, our patrons are not clamoring for picture book biographies of political candidates of any political persuasion. We always have need and want for biographies of presidents; if she does win, then we will order those books (and be prepared for them to be on backorder, I am sure). We *did* order that John McCain biography written by his daughter, and both copies circulated fewer than 10 times (and we are in a county that swings Republican). The Obama picture books did well when they were published (the more report-friendly biographies now circulate a bit more, especially in February), and if anyone noticed that we didn’t have any Mitt Romney books for children in our collection, no one mentioned it to us. I will order the Who Is Hillary Clinton? book when it is published; that series is popular, and will have information about her political career that will be useful for some time.

  7. There isn’t a Bernie Sanders picture book, but there ARE comic books: ‘Bernie’ by Ted Rall is a full-out graphic novel. He and Hillary also have single issue comics bios from Stormfront Publications and Bluewater Comics, respectively.

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      You can bet I bought copious copies of that for my library system. I’ve yet to see them sitting on the shelf. The Snowden bio by Rall too.