We tend to forget that everything we do in the adult world, seven year olds also do on a smaller scale. (I think this is the basic message of films like The Rescuers
and Basil the Great Mouse Detective
). Having read several dozen books in this great series, I was thoroughly used to the idea that third graders' lives are filled with sex, violence, angst, heartbreak and money problems, but somehow it hadn't occurred to me that politics had to be in there too. Surely these kids were too small for wheelin' and dealin'?
Dream on, Manny. Teacher says that they're going to have to choose two class delegates for the next school board meeting, and by early afternoon the election is in full swing. Max is lucky enough to have a good campaign manager - big sister Lili, who else? - and her well-crafted poster carries the day. During the following week, Max learns that power is an aphrodisiac (Juliette can barely keep her hands off him), power distances you from other people (Jérome and the other guys rapidly decide he's turned into a complete dickhead), and power involves agonizing responsibility (there are so many tricky moral angles involved in deciding whether or not to tattle). Things don't look good for our young hero.
But Max is born lucky, and it all works out. He and Fathia turn up at the big meeting with an outrageous list of demands, which are politely refused. However, Max has negotiating skills - common in younger siblings - and he can think on his feet. He manages to score a good compromise deal on upgrading the soccer pitch, which ends up pleasing everyone. Even his parents, when news gets back to them about his diplomatic triumph.
Max is walking on air! At least until Dad winces at the horrible noise coming from the next door garden. "Can't you go and tell them to keep it down a bit, Max?" he asks. "You're good at that kind of thing..."