President Donald Trump's surprising election night victory is one that many Americans are still trying to come to terms with themselves, but for many parents, explaining Trump's win to their kids has been even more difficult. So after realizing that discussing the election with their young children was something that an awful lot of people were grappling with, employees at San Francisco advertising agency barrettSF created a children's book in an attempt to make that process a little easier. Wondering how to buy The Pumpkin and the Pantsuit? This election-themed children's book is a great tool to explain Donald Trump's presidency to your kids in a way they can actually understand.
barrettSF Executive Creative Director Jamie Barrett told The Huffington Post that, in addition to the general sense of shock surrounding the election results, the inspiration for The Pumpkin and the Pantsuit also came from witnessing CNN political analyst Van Jones' commentary during an election night panel discussion. Jones made headlines back in November after he discussed how scary it felt to be a parent on the verge of not only having to explain the election results to his kids, but also how someone like Trump managed to become the President of the United States when he appeared to strongly oppose so many of the things parents tell their kids they should believe in and stand for.
After conceding on election night that Trump's unexpected success was impressive, Jones then discussed the dilemma that America parents were now facing, according to CNN. He said,
People have talked about a miracle ― I’m hearing about a nightmare. It’s hard to be a parent tonight for a lot of us. You tell your kids, ‘Don’t be a bully.’ You tell your kids, ‘Don’t be a bigot.’ You tell your kids, ‘Do your homework and be prepared.’ Then you have this outcome, and you have people putting children to bed tonight and they’re afraid of breakfast.
They’re afraid of, ‘How do I explain this to my children?’ I have Muslim friends who are texting me tonight saying, ‘Should I leave the country?’ I have families of immigrants that are terrified tonight.
Unfortunately, that's a discussion that hasn't exactly abated since Trump's inauguration — if anything, thanks to his recent executive order restricting travel and immigration, it's only made it more relevant. But it was that very idea that spurred Barrett, along with co-authors Todd Eisner and Pete Harvey, to write their book. Coupled with illustration work from New York's the STUDIO, barrettSF completed the project in only two months, and managed to self-publish the book only three days ahead of Inauguration Day.
Billed as "a cautionary tale of two big personalities who run against each other for the highest public office in the land," according to Amazon, The Pumpkin and the Pantsuit doesn't actually refer to Trump or former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton directly, but of course the similarities are undeniable. The story describes how "a short, short time ago," both the Pantsuit and the Pumpkin wanted to live in "the big white house," but it could ultimately only house one of them. So in an effort to determine who got to live there, they traveled around “making speeches,” “answering questions,” and “telling everyone what they believed in.”
What was it that the Pantsuit and the Pumpkin believed in? Well, the Pantsuit, for one, told the people that if she got to live in the big white house, she'd "ask really smart scientists why the ice is melting so fast in the North Pole," and that she would "let other pantsuits make their own choices." As for the Pumpkin, he vowed that if he lived in the big white house, he'd "build a huuuuuuuuuge wall to keep out people I don't know" and that he'd "let super rich people spend their money rather than share it."
Obviously, The Pumpkin and the Pantsuit isn't exactly claiming to be a bi-partisan account of the election, but then again, that wasn't really ever the point. More than just explaining the election, The Pumpkin and the Pantsuit tries to remind both parents and children alike that, even if they are disappointed by the results, a Trump presidency isn't the end. In other words, even though the Pantsuit has obviously lost to the Pumpkin at the end of the book, the takeaway isn't that the "good guy" lost. Instead, young readers are told that she has still “inspired the little pantsuits to believe that some day, very soon, one of them would live in the big white house,” and that they should still continue to have hope if that's something they would like to see happen someday.
Though the book has predictably received a number of negative reviews by people who have called it "biased," "misleading," and even sexist and racist (based on the idea that Clinton is referred to as an article of clothing, and Trump is called a pumpkin based on the color of his skin), many parents have shared that they felt the book helped them discuss the election with their kids in a positive way that would ultimately empower them, and that is was something even very young children would be able to understand. Some also commented that their kids even spoke about wanting to be president one day after reading The Pumpkin and the Pantsuit, and that beyond just being a book about the election, it's also a great way to explain broader topics, like acceptance, and not being a bully to others.
Looking to pick up a copy of your own? The Pumpkin and the Pantsuit sells for $12 on Amazon, with all of the proceeds benefitting the Children's Defense Fund, a nonprofit organization that advocates for "the children of America who cannot vote, lobby or speak for themselves."