There is nothing unusual about political biographies aimed at young readers. (The lives of both Barack Obama and John McCain were both depicted in rather heroic terms in books intended for young readers during the 2008 presidential campaign.) But when the subject is Sarah Palin – whose own autobiography "Going Rogue" has sold more than 2 million copies – you can bet that reader interest will run particularly high.
"Speaking Up: The Sarah Palin Story," expected in bookstores this fall, is part of the ZonderKidz biography series. Other books in the series tend to be inspirational rather than political, featuring figures like Tim Howard (a professional soccer player who has struggle with Tourette's syndrome) and Ben Carson (a pediatric surgeon once taunted as a "class dummy"). "Speaking Up," by Kim Washburn, is also cast as the story of a strong figure who struggles against the odds to reach success. The tagline on the book's jacket reads, "The story of a girl from Alaska who grew up to run for the White House."
"Speaking Up" also draws heavily on Palin's religious background, occasionally quoting from the Bible and focusing on Palin as a strongly committed Christian who refused to compromise her beliefs to suit either fellow politicians or the American public. Her insistence on speaking out about her belief in creationism, for instance, shows her standing up to Republican Party "handlers" who worried that she would alienate some voters.
Republican Party members are not necessarily heroes in this book. Palin is shown clashing more than once with members of the McCain campaign and at one point, Washburn explains, "it took a Democrat-turned-Independent politician [Joe Lieberman] to lift her spirits and restore her perspective."
The real enemies in "Speaking Up" are "the members of the media." Washburn writes that, "With one-sided sources and one-sided facts, some of their stories had more spin than a twirling igloo."
As to the big question on the lips of all Palin-watchers these days – will she or won't she run – Washburn's readers won't be privy to any more information than the rest of us. "She is not gearing up to be the next president," writes Washburn, taking her clue from a Palin address to the Tea Party, "but she wouldn't rule it out either."
Marjorie Kehe is the Monitor's book editor.