BOOK REVIEWS

President Donald Trump (True Bookbiographies) Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-04-15 
Review Score: 5 out of 5 star From 0 user ratings
ISBN:0531230147
LANGUAGE:English

" As a librarian it is unethical for me to censor or to deny students knowledge. This book is a perfect choice for young readers. It states the facts and does not include any bias or slant. I am glad this is the one I chose for my library, and to help students know facts about the president of the United States. " said.

"This is a terrible book. And it is terrible not because of what it says about Donald Trump, but because of what it omits.

When reading a children's nonfiction book, one can expect a certain amount of content to be left out, to either keep the book simple and easy to read, or to avoid talking about subjects that might not be considered "appropriate" for children of a certain age. I, personally, am not an advocate for this method of withholding information. Let the child or their parent/guardian determine what is appropriate, instead of assuming that every child in a particular age range can only handle certain subjects.

Still, in the absence of parental supervision, I understand why these books exist: to give kids a primer on a particular topic that can be explored at length later on. Problems occur, however, when that primer introduces information that may be misleading or outright false, giving the reader the wrong impression of the topic at hand. And that is certainly the problem with this book, President Donald Trump. Joanne Mattern, in attempting to write objectively and without bias, introduces elements of Trump's life that require more detail, but in not giving the reader those crucial details, she creates equivocations that distort the truth of these historical events.

For example, Mattern mentions Trump's divorces, as well as his issues with bankruptcy. Fine, in and of itself. Divorces and bankruptcies happen, and when children's authors have to mention a famous person's divorce because it objectively, factually happened, they can do so without going into the heavier psychological ramifications of such a split. But when you're discussing the President of the United States, those concepts take on extra meaning. The rest of the book paints Trump as a family man who himself comes from a strict but loving family. Are kids supposed to understand that Trump's divorces raise questions about him being an upstanding family man? Or is that completely obliterated by the generally positive tone of the book?

Similarly, the aforementioned bankruptcies come off as something that happened to a lot of businesses in the 90s. That may be true, but there is evidence to suggest that Trump is, at least, partially responsible for the bankruptcies of his own company. When the rest of the book paints him as a savvy businessman who revitalized certain sections of New York and altruistically repaired a popular ice rink at no cost to the city, not mentioning his name in conjunction with those bankruptcies seems disingenuous and irresponsible.

And we've yet to arrive at the 2016 election! Look: there's a lot about the 2016 election that delves into more mature subject matter that is either beyond the scope of a young child or deemed not appropriate by its parent/guardian. It's already been asserted, many times over, that Trump's generally vulgar nature makes it difficult to talk to children about the political process. That's fine. If you want to talk about the controversy that was the 2016 election--and Joanne Mattern does--you still have plenty of controversial material to discuss in Trump's political stances. And to Mattern's credit, she does emphasize how controversial some of his statements (especially regarding immigrants) were.

But if you are going to write about these controversial statements, YOU CANNOT PRETEND THAT BOTH SIDES ARE EQUALLY REPRESENTED. In the simple language of children's books, Mattern asserts that some people were upset by Trump's statements, while others were in support of what he had to say. But in doing so, assigns equal representation to both sides of the issue. How many were against what Trump said? How many were for it? The only proof is hard numbers, and though the election results are presented at the back of the book, those results are downplayed, compared to the equivocating done on the actual issues of the debate.

I admit that many of these issues are, officially, still just conjecture. To what extent Trump bankrupted his own business, or the extent to which the divorces were his responsibility, we don't definitively know. And at least some of the controversies of the 2016 election remained only allegations after the fact. But if you're going to talk about those controversies in a kids book, I think it'd be better to present them as what they are--even if they're uncertain--than to make assumptions or suggest things that aren't true. It's not just misleading: it's potentially dangerous.
" said.

April 2018 New Book:

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