Malia and Sasha Obama (Jennifer M. Besel)


I always find the Biography section of the library a most interesting place. This section is filled with the life stories of people who have lived important lives and done important things and experienced important events. Anytime I browse a new vendor catalog I am always a wee bit concerned over the saturation of biographies of young people who (Lord willing) still have 3/4's of their lives left to lead on this earth. Is it appropriate to write biographies of children and young adults? Is it appropriate for kids to read these stories of lives that can so easily change in the next month, or perhaps were drastically changed even before the book was completed, printed, and published? Is that contributing to the amount of inaccurate information our kids can take in, if we are not careful? And I wonder also about the subjects' opinion of people writing books about them. What are Malia and Sasha going to think in 20 years when there is a book on a library shelf stating that their favorite musicians are the Jonas Brothers? (Nothing against the JB, I'm just sayin'...)

Maybe I'm overthinking it.

After all, Malia and Sasha Obama are easily the most famous kids in America right now. With their dad as President Barack Obama, that makes them the youngest children to live in the White House in a very long time. As school-age children learn about how our government functions, they are naturally curious about current leaders and their families. This book, this biography of America's most popular 12 year old and 9 year old, barely stays on the shelf in my school library. I can hardly check it in before another child wants to check  it out, and unlike most biographies there are no boundaries in its target audience. Boys want to read it, girls want to read it, high readers, low readers, etc. Even teachers are interested to flip through it.

Here are a few things that I learned about the Obama girls from this book:
-Malia's birthday is July 4th; she gets to be in a parade every year on her bday (how fun is that!)
-Her dad calls her "Little Miss Articulate" because she has a talent for saying just the right thing.
-Malia suffers from allergies and asthma.
-Sasha's real name is Natasha; Sasha is just a nickname.
-Her dad calls her his "precious pea."
-Sasha had meningitis when she was just 3 months old.
-Their room at the White House was decorated from items from Pottery Barn, Target, and Crate & Barrel. When they moved into the White House, they brought their own Jonas Brothers posters from home.
-They have chores, which include cleaning up their own rooms, making their own beds, clearing the dishes after supper. If they complete all of these, they get $1 a week as their allowance.

The pictures of the girls at places such as the presidential inauguration, serving troops by stuffing backpacks for their children, helping serve food to the homeless, and looking beautiful in their famous attire are probably what draws most readers to this book. I like that the visuals communicate to kids that being the child of the American president doesn't make you a princess; it makes you a joyful servant of the nation's people...and that makes me think that this is a pretty great addition to my library.