Book looks

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Just a few months ago, Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States. His journey to becoming the first African-American president is recounted in the exciting and insightful Obama: The Historic Journey (The New York Times/Callaway, $24.95, 96 pages, ages 9 to 14).

The young-readers' edition joins the adult version of The New York Times book, with both published less than a month after Obama was sworn into office.

The book is packed with photographs from the campaign and inauguration, as well as images from Obama's childhood and young-adult years as a community organizer and Harvard University law student.

It begins on Election Day, 2008, and includes comments from throughout the campaign by volunteers and family members. Back in 2004, shortly after Obama's election to the U.S. Senate, his daughter Malia, then a first-grader, wondered if he would try to be president. "Shouldn't you be vice president first?" she asked.

Much of the information comes from Obama's 1995 memoir, Dreams From My Father, in which he recounts his childhood as the son of a white mother and a black father, a Kenyan who was absent for most of Obama's life.

The book smoothly blends personal aspects with his political career and the increasingly exciting presidential campaign. Breakout sections include a biography of his wife, Michelle; an Obama family tree; a chart of Obama favorites (for example, chili is his favorite food); and how The New York Times planned its election issue.

At the end are children's letters to Obama including one from "Jayme" who suggests that the president is too skinny and should bulk up with pizza, ice cream, cupcakes and cotton candy.

Another picture book about the president captures the search for identity and purpose that Obama details in Dreams From My Father -- for much younger readers.

Barack (Collins, $17.99, 32 pages, ages 4 to 8) focuses on Obama's life up to the presidential election. The text, by Jonah Winter, is simple and heartfelt.

The richly colored illustrations, including a portrait of Obama as a baby in the arms of his mother in Hawaii, are by AG Ford, a 2007 graduate of Columbus College of Art & Design. Ford studied with C.F. Payne, chairman of the illustration department at CCAD and creator of the portrait of Obama that ran on the cover of Time magazine's inauguration issue.

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