September 06


The Secrets to Ruling School: Class Election Book Trailer by Neil Swaab

When I was in middle school, I had a glorious mullet, spent a lot of time on Internet message boards (which was decidedly not cool in 1989), and was so un-athletic that I puked after running The Mile. Twice. Needless to say, I was not at the top of the popularity pyramid.

So when it came time to run for class president, I resisted the urge to throw my hat into the ring and, instead, sat on the sidelines. And of course, some popular kid with perfect hair who could effortlessly dunk a basketball won.

The thing is, I would have been a great class president. I had ideas. I listened. I could find all kinds of useful information on the Internet. (Again, this was 1989.) I would have led my people well. And, perhaps afterward, my interest in politics would have blossomed until I eventually ran for the senate as an adult and then, later, president of the United States. I’d probably have a Nobel Peace Price right now. (OK, I might not be president or have a Nobel Peace prize, but I would definitely be a lot more politically-minded.)

My case is not unique. Every year smart, thoughtful, insightful kids want to run for office in their schools . . . and don’t. Because of shyness. Because of a lack of confidence. Because they know it all just ends up being a popularity contest. Which is a real shame because these kids would be wonderful at it. And getting involved in their school at that kind of level breeds a love of politics that will carry through their entire lives. These are the kind of kids we need in office. These are the kind of kids who could change the world.

The Secrets to Ruling School: Class Election can help them. Yes, it’s hilarious and full of jokes on every page, but it also inspires kids by giving them the confidence to throw their own hats into the ring. I penned this hybrid story/guide for my eleven-year old self and any other kids out there like me. I want to build them up and create a life-long passion for, and involvement in, politics. (And make them laugh until milk shoots out of their noses too, yes, but—more importantly—ignite that passion.) If even one child runs for class president after reading this book who would have been discouraged otherwise, I’ll be thoroughly elated.

I hope the young readers, teachers, and librarians have as much fun reading this book as I did writing it. And I hope they enjoy the trailer as well, which The Nerdy Book Club has so awesomely decided to premiere. It was a blast making it.

No matter where you stand on the political divide, we can all agree that getting kids interested in politics—and giving them the confidence to do so—is a hugely important thing. I created this book and trailer to do just that.


Music: Run Amok by Kevin MacLeod (

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License


Sound FX: Soundsnap


Narration: Dave Soltura (


Max: Fin (


Animation / Directing / Producing: Neil Swaab


secrets-to-ruling-the-school-class-electionNeil Swaab is a freelance illustrator, art director, cartoonist, and writer who lives in Astoria, NY and works in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. His work has been recognized by The Society of Illustrators, Print Magazine, Communication Arts, American Illustration, The Type Directors Club, and The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He is also an adjunct professor at Parsons the New School for Design where he teaches in the Illustration Department.