Pride Month Book Reviews/PPBF – Mayor Pete

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Title: Mayor Pete, the Story of Pete Buttigieg (Who did it first?)

Author: Rob Saunders

Illustrator: Levi Hastings

 Publisher: Henry holt and co., 07/21/2020

Ages: 4-8

48 pages

Nonfiction: biography

Themes: political biography, Pete Buttigieg, political office, office of president, electoral campaigns, millennials, lgbtqia+, mayors, Indiana democrats


When Pete Buttigieg announced he was running for president, he became the first openly gay candidate to run for the Democratic party’s presidential nomination and the first millennial ever to pursue the office. But before the nation knew him as “Mayor Pete,” he was a boy growing up in a Rust Belt town, a kid who dreamed of being an astronaut, and a high schooler who wondered about a life of public service. Without a doubt, no one could have imagined who Peter Paul Montgomery Buttigieg, the boy who lived in a two-story house on College Street, would become.

Through victories and defeats, and the changes that the seasons bring, the young boy from South Bend grew into a man devoted to helping others. Mayor Pete: The Story of Pete Buttigieg celebrates the life of an American who dared to be the first and who imagined a better world for everyone.


He was born while a record-setting snowstorm blanketed South Bend, Indiana. Joseph and Jennifer Anne proudly welcomed Peter Paul Montogomery Buttigieg—or Pete—home.

Only time would tell who the boy in the two story house on College Street would become.

Why I like this book:

I certainly think the first openly gay American running for the office of the Democratic Presidential candidate for the 2020 elections deserves a picture book biography, and Sanders has written a simple compelling introduction of his life for young readers to be released next month. The author earths Mayor Pete very clearly in his home town of South bend Indiana even though he goes off to study at Harvard, MA, and later as part of the Naval reservists does a tour in Afghanistan. Clearly South Bend is home, and a city and state loved by Buttigieg.

This is a biography which focuses on salient events in mayor Pete’s life, that we have all come to know over the past year, but presents them in a way grounded in seasons, and failures and successes that young children will relate to. We meet him as a little a boy growing up in a Rust Belt town, one who dreamed of being an astronaut, and whose desire to serve his community is evident already in high school when he stands for various school posts.

While Sanders doesn’t mention it, his emphasis on Mayor Pete’s simple beginnings reminds me (the foreigner) of another famous gay American politician, Lincoln, born in a one-room log cabin in Kentucky but who then moved to and grew up in southern Indiana! Certainly Mayor Pete’s unpretentious midwest beginnings are relatable.

With nimble picture book prowess, Sanders creates a refrain that links the evolution of this young motivated boy through his life’s choices thus far to the first-of-his-kind man running for presidential office. The refrain seen above at the bottom of the opening page echos through to the last page with its,

“Only time will tell who Pete Buttigieg, presidential candidate, will become.” It is also a refrain that offers aspiration to readers that we do not know the exciting tasks to which our lives are destined.

I have always personally loved Mayor Pete’s linguistic prowess!

Four double paged spreads are given over to Mayor Pete’s (publicly) coming out after his return from Afghanistan and how it did not impede his election as mayor, nor did his marriage to to Chasten Glezman prevent Pete’s political progress.

After this week’s historic SCOTUS decision when it ruled that LGBTQIA+ workers are protected from job discrimination it seems fitting to be promoting a picture book about Pete Buttigieg.


Back matter includes a time line, a short discussion about Mayor Pete’s place in history, who can be president as well as a selected list of sources, and how to pronounce that name! This is a great text to add to our diversity bookshelves, and in an election year, a terrific text to talk about presidential candidates with our future voters.

Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

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8 Responses to Pride Month Book Reviews/PPBF – Mayor Pete

  1. I call this book the perfect choice to share for Perfect Picture Book Friday this week!
    I love the opening statement (refrain) Only time would tell who the boy in the two-story house on College Street would become. These words raise curiosity and keep the reader turning pages to find out. 🙂

    • Joanna says:

      It isn’t easy bringing adult biographies effectively to a young audience and Ron really achieves it well in this picture book.

  2. Jilanne Hoffmann says:

    Perfect choice, Joanna! Especially to celebrate the SCOTUS ruling and Pride Month. The opening lines remind me of Kate Messner’s new book, The Next President. But I digress. Rob is on a roll! I just attended his Writing Barn book launch of The Fighting Infantryman: The Story of Albert D. J. Cashier, Transgender Civil War Soldier. He’s writing great books!

  3. Great review Joanna. I really love that refrain. It really stood out in the opening. I’m looking forward to reading this one. Thanks.

  4. I am so excited to see that someone has written a children’s book about Mayor Pete! He was such an articulate, steady and intelligent candidate. You couldn’t help but take notice and really like him! He certainly has a future ahead of him. I can’t wait until the book is released.
    Your comment about Lincoln being gay surprised me, because everything I’ve seen in recent years has indicated that it was unsubstantiated and unlikely. What is your source?

    • Joanna says:

      Great comments and question, Pat. I confess my main sources are talking to Lee Wind about his research for his YA novel Queer as a Five Dollar Bill. Lee uses historical research and multi-media to credibly re-look at the country’s sixteenth president sexuality, but you are right, nothing at all has been proven, and I definitely need to do some more personal research.

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