Winston, Sherri. President of the Whole Sixth Grade
November 3rd 2015 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
Brianna has moved up a grade from President of the Whole Fifth Grade, and is back with her clipboard and a plan to earn enough money so that her class can go to a leadership conference in Washington, D.C. There are some problems along the way with friends, a lot of difficulty in raising money, and some intrigue with a new girl, Red. Brianna manages to triumph despite her small size and the fact that her classmates think she dresses like a "jelly bean", and the group makes it to D.C., where they manage to meet lots of notables, including the First Family and the First Nephew-- who is very dreamy and very interested in Brianna. Brianna's strong will and insistent personality is once again vindicated.
Strengths: The trip to Washington, as well as the fundraising, are topics that are not overdone in middle grade literature. The Detroit setting is interesting, and the adults are all actively supportive. The friendship drama is true to life. It's refreshing to see a middle class African American student who is driven and has particular interests (baking, journalism, leadership roles).
Weaknesses: Brianna is not nice. She's not nice to her friends, and she is really not nice to the people with whom she has conflicts. From page 28 of the ARC: "Braxton was a first rate fungus, but a second-rate human being. Shaped like an evil rectangle with a piggish little nose, he'd been on my case since the day Ms. Galafinkis picked me to be president." There is also a strange incident involving a friend who thinks she is fat that didn't seem supportive and productive. If Brianna were a student at my school, there would be a lot of phone calls home about her interactions with others!
What I really think: The first book in this series does not circulate well, but that might be because it has "fifth grade" in the title. The updated cover on this looks fresh, so I might have to give it a go, no matter how unpleasant I find Brianna.