Obama children's book 'Of Thee I Sing' ..a hit?

New York (AP) - Coming two weeks after Election Day, a book from President Barack Obama for some of the nation's nonvoters: inspirational stories for children about American pioneers.



"Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters" is a tribute to 13 groundbreaking Americans, from the first president, George Washington, to baseball great Jackie Robinson to artist Georgia O'Keeffe. It will be released Nov. 16 by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, which will officially announce the new work Tuesday. Knopf declined to identify the other 10 subjects.

According to AP National Writer
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In this book cover image released by Random House Children's Books, "Of Thee I SingA Letter to My Daughters," by Barack Obama, is shown. (AP Photo/Random House Children's Books)
President Obama is still a hit with the nation's book buyers.
Obama's tribute to 13 American ground breakers, "Of Thee I Sing," was in the top 25 on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com as of Wednesday morning, less than two days after the children's book was announced and two months before its scheduled release. Random House Children's Books plans a first printing of 500,000 copies.

Both of Obama's previous works, the memoir "Dreams From My Father" and the policy book "The Audacity of Hope," are million sellers.

Obama, who finished "Of Thee I Sing" before his administration began, is the rare president to have a book come out while still in office. He will be an even rarer one if "Of Thee I Sing" is a best seller. Presidents from Ulysses S. Grant to John F. Kennedy to Bill Clinton have written popular books, but none came out while they were in the White House. Clinton's policy book, "Between Hope and History," was released near the end of his first term and sold a fraction of the memoir "My Life," published three years after his second term.


Obama is not the first president to write for young people. Jimmy Carter's "The Little Baby Snoogle-Fleejer" was published in 1995, more than a decade after he left office. More in line with Obama's effort, Theodore Roosevelt collaborated with Henry Cabot Lodge on "Hero Tales from American History," released in 1895, before Roosevelt was president.

Obama's book is illustrated by Loren Long, whose many credits include Watty Piper's classic "The Little Engine That Could," Randall de Seve's "Toy Boat" and Madonna's "Mr. Peabody's Apples." Long wrote and illustrated the children's stories "Otis" and "Drummer Boy." His cover design for "Of Thee I Sing" is a sunny impression of presidential daughters Sasha and Malia Obama walking their dog, Bo, along a grassy field.
Random House children's president and publisher Chip Gibson lauded the new Obama book, which is intended for readers ages 3 and up.

"It is an honor to publish this extraordinary book, which is an inspiring marriage of words and images, history and story," Gibson said Monday in a statement. "'Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters' celebrates the characteristics that unite all Americans - the potential to pursue our dreams and forge our own paths."

Obama's 40-page book will have a first printing of 500,000 copies and a list price of $17.99. Both of Obama's previous works, the memoir "Dreams From My Father" and the policy book "The Audacity of Hope," are million sellers published by Crown, a division of Random House Inc.

The president will donate any author proceeds to "a scholarship fund for the children of fallen and disabled soldiers serving our nation," the publisher said in a statement.
Obama agreed with Random House in 2004 to write a children's book, which, according to the publisher, he completed before he became president. "Of Thee I Sing" is part of a $1.9 million, three-book deal with Random House reached in 2004, according to a disclosure report filed in 2005, when Obama was a U.S. senator from Illinois. The other two books were nonfiction.

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