Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Review: Ted Kennedy's children's book, "My Senator and Me"

In preparation for our recent trip to Washington, Little Marathon Pundit rode her bike to the Morton Grove Public Library, checking out several books about our nation's capital.

One of those books was the recently published My Senator and Me, A Dog's Eye View of Washington, written by Senator Edward M. Kennedy.

It's a children's book written from the perspective of Kennedy's Portuguese Water Dog, Splash. Yes, the dog's name really is Splash, and pundits have made wisecracks about the name in reference to that 1969 driving incident, but in fairness to Splash, the wet-nosed one was named that before Kennedy bought him.

As the dog explains:

I know a lot about the Senate because I work there too, always at the side of my Senator. His name is Edward M. Kennedy. My name is Splash. Let me explain....

The only way to become a Senator is to be elected by the people of your home state.

(My note: Having a multi-millionaire father and a brother in the White House helps a bit, as Kennedy learned in 1962.)

Sadly, conflict invades Splash's world, as the canine tells the reader after what seems to be good news arrives at Kennedy's office.

"The Senate has voted to approve our education bill!" one staff member says. "Our bill will make schools safer, let them hire more teachers, and even put a computer in every classroom!"

But the House of Representatives passed a different education bill," says another staff member. This is a problem."

"Well there is no time to lose, says the Senator. "We need to meet with the members of the House immediately and work out the differences between the two bills. The schoolchildren are counting on us!"

Splash doesn't go into any detail on what else is in his Senator's bill. Knowing Kennedy, it's a safe assumption that school vouchers or merit pay for teachers are not in Kennedy's legislation.

Spoiler alert:

A conference between the House and Senate members to work out the differences between the bill takes place. It goes on and on...and an agreement on the bill is finally reached after Splash barks a couple of times.

The vote on the bill takes place, which is somewhat distressing to Splash, since dogs aren't allowed on the Senate floor.

One nugget of agreed-upon-truth is uttered by the dog, who writes:

I've seen plenty of Senators, and they don't behave any better that I do.

Do you really need to be told if the bill is approved by the Senate?
On the positive side, the artwork is superb, the illustrator for "My Senator and Me" is Caldecott Medal winning artist David Small. The dog appears pretty cute, and Small honestly draws Kennedy in all his girth, with the Senator's jowls prominently outlining his face.

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